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Much of the story of Ireland has never been 
adequately told. Her early traditions, indeed, 
regarded by the annalists and by Geoffrey 
Keating and others as sober history, have in 
recent times been more scientifically treated from 
varying points of view, as legend with a dim 
substratum of fact, as mythology with a still 
dimmer basis, as folklore growing out of deep- 
rooted primitive custom. The footprints of 
St. Patrick and of the early saints have been 
followed over the length and breadth of the 
island. The traces of her missionaries have been 
sought for and found throughout western Europe. 
Her wonderful handiwork, executed under the 
patronage of her Church, on vellum, in metal, 
on stone, has been praised with justifiable 
pride, and has taken its place — no mean one — 
in the history of the evolution of art. Her 
primitive literature is gradually being given to 
the world by competent scholars. But when 
we come to the more fully attested history of 
later times, the raids of the Wikings in the ninth 
and tenth centuries have indeed been described 
and duly deplored, but only scant recognition 
has been accorded to the contribution made 


by the Northmen to peaceful progress in the 
formation of seaport towns and the furthering 
of foreign trade. Throughout the whole historic 
period down to the coming of the Normans, the 
turmoil of inter-tribal conflicts has been the 
despair of writers who seek to tell a connected 
story, and in general they have passed it over 
rapidly, though perhaps not rapidly enough for 
their readers. The Norman invasion, the most 
far-reaching event that occurred in Ireland since 
the introduction of Christianity, has of course 
been repeatedly handled, but the importance of 
the invasion, and the interest that attaches to 
it and to the settlement of the new-comers that 
followed it, seem to demand for the period a 
much fuller study than any hitherto attempted. 
Then for the next three centuries, with the 
exception of some few unconnected episodes, the 
history of Ireland has been left in great obscurity, 
until in the sixteenth century she once more 
emerges into the light, and it is seen that 
English domination has sunk to its lowest ebb — 
that, though there are still two peoples in the 
island, over large parts of it descendants of 
English settlers have adopted Irish customs and 
have become as lawless and almost as rude as 
the Irish themselves, while in purely Irish 
districts little real advance from the position 
in the twelfth century has been effected. From 
this time forward Irish history has been treated 


more adequately, though not always with the 
freedom from passion becoming to historical 

The object I had in view in the preparation 
of this work was, primarily, to give a more 
adequate as well as a more accurate account 
of the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland, and of 
the settlement consequent thereon, than had 
hitherto been published ; while it was my 
expectation that a closer study of the period 
would enable a more just estimate to be formed 
of the influence for good or for evil of the 
domination of the new people. A beginning 
would thus have been made towards filling up 
the gap in Irish history to which allusion has 
been made. In the course of my study of the 
twelfth and thirteenth centuries (which has been 
spread over many years) I have not only had 
occasion to correct many misstatements of fact 
which have passed current, unquestioned, from 
writer to writer, but I have been led to regard 
the domination of the English Crown and of its 
ministers in Ireland, during the thirteenth cen- 
tury, and indeed up to the invasion of Edward 
Bruce in the year 1315, as having been much 
more complete than has been generally recog- 
nized, and to think that due credit has not been 
given to the new rulers for creating the com- 
parative peace and order and the manifest 
progress and prosperity that Ireland enjoyed, 


during that period, wherever their rule was 

With a view to ascertaining the main facts 
which led up to the invasion, I have commenced 
the present work with a survey, mainly derived 
from the Irish annals, of the immediately pre- 
ceding period. This is followed by a brief study, 
based chiefly on the Brehon Law Tracts, of some 
of those customs and institutions which were 
at the time peculiar to Ireland and which sub- 
sequently affected the relation between the two 
races. For the period of the actual invasion we 
are fortunate in having two independent and 
virtually contemporary accounts. One of these, 
that of Gerald de Barry, has indeed long been 
known and utilized, but owing to his connexion 
with the invaders and to his inevitable want of 
sympathy with the Irish, it has been the fashion 
to discredit his statements and to represent his 
judgement as hopelessly warped. His observa- 
tions on the social state of the country have been 
regarded as calumnies inspired by malevolence, 
the miraculous stories he tells have been held 
up as proofs of abnormal credulity, while he 
has even been charged with the deliberate 
forgery of important historical documents. That 
his sympathies were with the invaders, and in 
particular with those of his relatives who took 
a leading part in the invasion, should of course 
always be carefully borne in mind, but a study 


of his writings has led me to regard him not 
only as an extraordinarily acute observer, and 
one who for his time was not peculiarly credulous, 
but also as a writer who (allowance being made 
for certain obvious prepossessions) faithfully 
recorded what he saw and heard. Following 
good classical authority, and from artistic 
motives, he has put speeches more or less 
imaginary into the mouths of his protagonists, 
and even ascribed to them written messages 
which perhaps are not verbally authentic ; but 
the charge of deliberate forgery I reject as not 
merely non-proven, but in the highest degree 

The other authority which I think we may 
regard as virtually contemporary is the Old 
French poem which some years ago I edited 
under the title of ' The Song of Dermot and the 
Earl '. This has come to be recognized as a 
primary authority for the period of the invasion, 
but the information to be obtained from it, 
corroborating, supplementing, and sometimes 
correcting the account in the ' Expugnatio ', 
has never been fully incorporated in regular 
Irish histories ; and in particular the evidence 
it affords as to the distribution of fiefs among 
the early settlers, their manorial centres, and the 
type of castle usually erected by them, has never 
been fully co-ordinated with evidence to be 
obtained from charters and other sources, and 



especially from recent archaeological and topo- 
graphical research. These omissions I have 
endeavoured to supply. 

But the fragmentary ' Song ' breaks off before 
the death of Strongbow in 1176, and Gerald de 
Barry gives us only a few disjointed facts after 
the death of Hugh de Lacy, a decade later. 
Then there is a brief period of considerable 
obscurity until, with the accession of King 
John, the series of English records begins to 
cast a more certain light. From this time for- 
ward patient research in many quarters, coupled 
with the exercise of a sound judgement and other 
qualities essential to the historian, should result 
in the production of a trustworthy and fairly 
full history of Ireland for the next three cen- 
turies. The present modest contribution towards 
fulfilling this great task proceeds no further than 
the close of the reign of King John. I offer it 
with a full consciousness of its many defects — 
some of them due to the need of having first 
to establish the facts — but whatever its value, 
it is at least the result of an independent study 
of the primary sources. Even in this short 
period — less than half a century from the time 
when the first invader set foot in Ireland — it 
is, I think, manifest that the most prominent 
effect of the Anglo-Norman occupation was not, 
as has been represented, an increase of turmoil, 
but rather the introduction over large parts of 


Ireland of a measure of peace and prosperity 
quite unknown before. 

I have not thought it part of my duty to pass 
moral judgements on anybody. Such judge- 
ments, even if unwarped by prepossessions, 
usually ignore historical perspective and take 
little account of the moral standards of the 
period, and are therefore not only unfair but 
uninstructive. The most important function of 
an historian, after he has carefully ascertained 
the facts of a case, is to understand them in their 
relation to other facts, and to give an intelligible 
account of the whole. To understand an action 
he must regard it from the point of view of the 
actor and with reference to the circumstances in 
which the actor stood. When he has really 
done this he will seldom care to pass severe 
moral judgements. More often he will find that 
' tout comprendre est tout pardonner '. 


To Mr. Mills and Mr. McEnery, of the Public Record 
Office, Dublin, I owe thanks for their courtesy and 
assistance, and in particular for letting me use not only 
the original Gormanston Register, but also some proof- 
sheets of the forthcoming Calendar to the Register 
which is being prepared in the Office. To the National 
Library of Ireland I am much indebted for the ease of 
of my researches among its well-arranged shelves. 




Chief Governors of Ireland in the Reigns of 

Henry II, Richard I, and John . . .15 

Table of the Descendants of Nest . . .18 

Map showing principal Tribal Groups in the 
Twelfth Century 


I. Anarchic Ireland : Ninth to Eleventh 

Centuries 19 

II. Dermot, King of Leinster : 1126-66 39 

III. Dermot seeks Foreign Aid : 1166-7 . 77 

IV. Social and Physical Aspects of Ireland 101 
V. The First Conquerors : 1167-70 . 141 

VI. The Coming of Strongbow : 1170 . 179 

VII. Strongbow as Dermot's Successor: 1171 221 
Note : The time of the Norse Attack on 

Dublin 245 

VIII. Henry II in Ireland : 1171-2 . . 247 

Note : Grant of Meath to Hugh de Lacy 285 

IX. ' Laudabiliter ' 287 

Note A : Date of Publication of the 

Papal Privileges . . . .312 

Note B : Mr. Round's Position . . 317 

X. Strongbow, Lord of Leinster : 1172-6 . 319 

XI. The Sub-infeudation of Leinster . 367 

Note A : Strongbow's Grant of Aghaboe 394 
Note B : Flemish Element among the 

Settlers 396 




XII. The Conquest of Ulster : 1177-85 . 5 

XIII. The Occupation of Cork : 1177-85 . . 25 

XIV. Hugh de Lacy, Lord of Meath : 1172-86 . 51 

Note : The gradual absorption of the See 
of Glendalough . . . . .71 

XV. The Sub-infeudation of Meath . . 75 

XVI. John, Dominus Hiberniae : 1185 . . 91 

XVII. John de Courcy and Eastern Ireland : 

1186-1205 109 

§ 1. The succession of Chief Governors . 109 
§ 2. John de Courcy as Justiciar and in 

Ulster 114 

§3. English Uriel . . . .118 

§4. Meath 126 

§5. Dublin 129 

§ 6. The Crown Lands and Leinster . 132 

§ 7. The downfall of John de Courcy . 134 

XVIII. The Occupation of Limerick : 1192-1206 145 

XIX. William de Burgh in Conn aught : 1200- 

1206 179 

XX. William the Marshal in Ireland : 1207- 

1213 199 

Note : King John's Charters of Leinster 

and Meath 233 

XXI. King John in Ireland : 1210 . . 235 

XXII. Episcopal Viceroys : 1210-16 . . 279 
XXIII. After Fifty Years . . . .323 
Map Illustrating the Norman Settlement, 

circa 1216 

INDEX . . 345 



Hugh de Lacy : appointed custos of Dublin (Gesta 
Hen. i. 30, Gir. Camb. v. 286) and justiciarius Hiber- 
niae (Rog. Hoveden, ii. 34) in April 1172 ; summoned 
to Normandy, c. April (?) 1173. 

William Fitz Audelin : sent to transact the king's 
business, Regis loco et vice, c. April 1173 (see chap, ix, 
note A) . He held office probably for about five months. 

Richard de Clare, Earl of Striguil : appointed custos regni 
c. August 1173 (Gir. Camb. v. 298, < Song/ 2904-5); 
died c. June 1, 1176 (Gir. Camb. v. 332). 

Raymond Fitz William : appointed procurator provision- 
ally by the king's commissioners on the death of 
Richard de Clare (Gir. Camb. v. 334). 

William Fitz Audelin : appointed procurator by Henry, 
c. June 1176 (Gir. Camb. v. 334, Gesta Hen. i. 125). 

Hugh de Lacy : appointed procurator general, c. May 1177 
(Gir. Camb. v. 347), or custos of Dublin (Gesta Hen. 
i. 164). At the same time Henry created his son John 
Rex Hibemiae, but it is probable that he did not 
interfere before 1185. 

John de Lacy, Constable of Chester) jointly appointed 
Richard de Pec ) ad curam regiminis, 

c. May 1, 1181 (Gir. Camb. v. 355), or as custodes of 

Dublin (Gesta Hen. i. 270). 

Hugh de Lacy : re-appointed in the winter of 1181-2 
(Gir. Camb. v. 356). 


Philip of Worcester: appointed procurator, c. Sept. 1, 

1184 (Gir. Camb. v. 359). 

John Filius Regis : in Ireland as dominus from April 25, 

1185 (Gir. Camb. v. 380) to December 17, 1185 (R. de 
Diceto, ii. 39). 

John de Courcy : appointed by Henry, c. December 1185 
(Gir. Camb. v. 392). He was still justiciar when John 
was Earl of Mortain (Reg. St. Thomas, p. 383). 

? William le Petit : stated by Harris to have been Chief 
Governor in 1191. 

? Peter Plpard : justiciarius in 1194 (Marlburgh's 
Chronicle, Trin. Coll. Dub. MS. E. 3. 20, p. 135). 

Hamo de Valognes : justiciarius, 1196 (Annals of Inis- 
f alien) to c. 1198 (Papal Letters (Bliss), vol. i, p. 3). 

Peter Plpard 
William le Petit 

joint justiciars, c. 1198-9 (Chart. 

St. Mary's, vol. i, p. 144 ; vol. ii, p. 28). 

Meiler Fitz Henry : his appointment as capitalis jus- 
ticiarius is entered on Rot. Chart. 2 John, but writs 
are addressed to him as justiciar from c. July 1199. 
He remained justiciar until the autumn of 1208, when 
he appears to have been superseded by Hugh de Lacy. 

Hugh de Lacy, Earl of Ulster : probably Chief Governor 
for a few months from the autumn of 1208 (Annals of 
Inisf alien, and Harris). 

John de Gray, Bishop of Norwich : justiciar probably from 
the winter of 1208-9, when William de Braose seems 
to have fled to Ireland (Hist. Guillaume le Marechal, 
Rot. Misae, pp. 144, 149). 

King John : in Ireland June 20, 1210, to August 25, 1210 
(Rot. de Prestito). 

John de Gray : remained as justiciar until superseded by 
Archbishop Henri de Londres, but he appears to have 
been summoned to attend the king on the Welsh 
campaign of 1211 (Four Masters, sub anno 1210, and 


cf. Roger of Wendover, vol. ii, p. 60), when Richard 
de Tuit was left as deputy in his stead ; and again in 
April 1213, when he attended the muster at Barham 
Down with 500 knights (Roger of Wendover, vol. ii, 
p. 67), and when probably Geoffrey de Marisco was his 

Henri de Londres, Archbishop of Dublin : appointed 
justiciar on July 23, 1213 (Rot. Pat., 15 John, p. 102). 

Geoffrey de Marisco : appointed justiciar on July 6, 
1215 (Rot. Pat., 17 John, p. 148). 

The above list differs in several particulars from that 
compiled by Walter Harris in his edition of Ware's Anti- 
quities (1764), p. 102. Harris's list, though generally 
followed by later writers, can be shown to be incorrect in 
many particulars (see c. xvii, § 1). The principal authorities 
for the above list are in each case given. The only really 
obscure period is from the termination of John de Courcy's 
term of office to the appointment of Meiler Fitz Henry. 




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1 Mary ! It is a great deed that has been a great 
done in Erin on this day, the Kalends of August : Erin. m 
Diarmaid Mac Donnchada Mic Murchada, King 
of Leinster and of the Foreigners, to have been 
banished by the men of Erin over the sea east- 
wards ! Uch, uch, Lord ! what shall I do ? ' l 

These words, written in Irish on the margin 
of a page in the Book of Leinster, express the 
feelings of some devoted adherent of Dermot 
MacMurrough upon the occasion of Dermot's 
expulsion from Ireland in the year 1166. Verily 
it was a great deed that was done in Erin on that 
day ; greater even than this poor follower of 
the fallen king, unless endowed with prophetic 
insight, could have foreseen ; a deed big with 
the destinies of Erin for many a long century 
to come. 

But although the expulsion of Dermot, by Deeper- 
supplying a pretext for interference, led directly causes. 
to the Anglo-Norman invasion and to the 
ultimate subjection of Ireland to the English 

1 Book of Leinster, f. 200 a. 


Crown, great national movements are never 
really due to mere personal action or individual 
volition. Had Dermot never been expelled, or 
had he never invoked Norman aid, we may rest 
assured that the ultimate result would not have 
been very different. In the state of Ireland, 
viewed relatively to that of England in the 
twelfth century, we must seek for the more 
deep-seated conditions which invited the in- 
vasion and rendered the ultimate subjection 
Ireland in Ireland was still in the tribal state. The alle- 

the tribal 

state. giance of the free-born Irishman was given in 
the first place to the head of his family, kindred, 
or sept {fine), and through the family head 
(cenn fine) to the chief of the tribe of which his 
family formed an element, related by real or 
supposed remoter kinship and connected by 
common ownership of land. The Irishman's 
country was the tuath or territory belonging to 
his tribe. There was often a tangible bond of 
union between his particular tribe and certain 
neighbouring ones, connected perhaps by tra- 
ditional kinship or actual conquest, linked 
together under a sub-king, and forming a mor- 
tuaih. A still weaker bond bound this mor-tuaih 
with its sub-king to the provincial king, while 
the provincial king seldom acknowledged the 
superiority of any other unless under compul- 
sion, and then, as a rule, only so long as the 


compulsion lasted. In theory indeed this was 
not so. Theoretically there was a regular chain 
of subordination from the tiller of the ground 
through his immediate lord, leading up, link by 
link, to the ard-ri or chief king of Ireland. In 
theory the organization bore a certain superficial 
resemblance to the feudal system, but it was 
based in its lower stages on loans of cattle and 
food rents, and in the higher ranks on more or 
less arbitrary tributes, and not in any case on 
gifts of lands, and there was no adequate legal 
machinery for enforcing the observance of rights 
and the performance of duties. 

It is usual to speak of the five provinces of 
Ireland, the names of which, though not the 
exact boundaries, are still represented by Ulster, 
Munster, Leinster, Connaught, and Meath, as if 
they were definite units each under one king. 
This was perhaps the theory, and, when there 
was a strong king in any particular province, 
may have been the fact in that province, during 
the period of his strength ; but it was seldom, 
if ever, literally true of them all. Had it been 
so, it would not have been necessary for the 
provincial kings to be again and again exacting 
hostages from their supposed subordinates. This 
is the principal criterion of kingship laid down 
in the Brehon Law Tracts : ' He is not a king 
who has not hostages in fetters, to whom the 
rent of a king is not given, to whom the fines of 


Principal law are not paid.' * The principal groups of 
groups, tribes in Ulster (the modern province) were the 
Cinel Owen (seated in Tyrone and London- 
derry), the Cinel Connell (in Donegal), the 
Ulidians (in Down and Antrim), and the Oir- 
ghialla (or people of Uriel, i.e. Louth, Armagh, 
and Monaghan). There was really no recog- 
nized king of this province, 2 though in general 
the king of the Cinel Owen, whose traditional 
seat was the fort of Ailech near Derry, was the 
most powerful ; but more often than not the 
kings of the other groups appear to have been 
quite independent of him, and whenever he 
claimed supremacy it was necessary to reduce 
them to subjection. Brerfny, a district com- 
prising the modern counties of Leitrim and Cavan, 
with which at times parts of Longford were held, 
though nominally classed with Connaught, was 
often independent and even opposed to that 
province. The kingdom of Ossory, correspond- 
ing to the modern diocese of that name, and 
including besides Kilkenny the three western 
baronies of Queen's County, was sometimes 
claimed as subordinate to Munster and some- 
times as subject to Leinster, and yet was really 
more often independent of both. From the 

1 Ancient Laws of Ireland, vol. iv, p. 51. 

52 In the Book of Rights the kings of Ailech, of Oirghialla, 
and of Uladh are treated as co-ordinate and quite indepen- 
dent of each other. 


dawn of history for a period of six centuries 
(i. e. from the middle of the fifth to the middle 
of the eleventh century) the so-called kings 
of Leinster were almost without exception 
chosen from the groups of tribes that clustered 
round the Curragh of Kildare, and they seldom 
had any effective authority in Southern Leinster. 
When the tribe of Okinselagh, seated in the 
diocese of Ferns, gave kings to Leinster, the 
tribes of Leix, Offaly, Offelan, and Omurethy 
(i. e. Northern Leinster), as well as Ossory, were 
often opposed to them. Munster in later times 
was generally divided into Thomond or North 
Munster and Desmond or South Munster, and 
these districts were constantly at war with each 
other. Meath, the traditional seat of the ard~ri 9 
was more homogeneous, but its boundaries, 
though generally coinciding with the modern 
diocese, varied at different times. Dublin and 
the adjoining district were generally held in- 
dependently under the Danish kings, while, on 
the other hand, Offaly and Offelan sometimes 
gave hostages to the King of Meath. In the 
twelfth century Meath was again and again 
partitioned in the most arbitrary manner, and 
was more than once subjected to * foreign 
kings '. 

But if the authority of the provincial kings Theau- 
was frequently defied, that of the ard-ri or thTard-ri. 
supreme King of Ireland, if acknowledged at all, 

* p-i 






was little more than nominal. The Book of 
Rights contains an elaborate account of the tri- 
butes stated to be due from the provincial kings 
(of which as many as twelve are enumerated) 
to the ard-ri, and from the sub-kings to the 
provincial kings, as well as of the ' stipends ' to 
be paid by the latter in each case to the former, 
but this elaborate account must be regarded as 
a claim put forward by a king of Munster who 
aspired to the head kingship of Ireland, rather 
than as a system ever regularly carried out. 
Certainly the supreme king could not count 
upon military assistance from the provincial 
kings even to resist an invasion of Ireland. 
Thus when Brian, always acknowledged to be 
the most powerful monarch Ireland ever had, 
summoned his great army to crush the Danes 
of Dublin and to repel the fresh Scandinavian 
hordes invited to the conquest of Ireland by 
Sitric, the northern province universally held 
aloof; so did the King of Connaught with the 
major part of the province; while Leinster 
actually fought on the enemy's side. 1 To the 
same weakness, as we shall find, must largely be 
ascribed the inability of Rory 0' Conor to cope 
with the handful of Norman knights who fought 
under Strongbow. 

The theoretical organization, then, of Ireland, 
consisting of five provinces ruled by five kings 
1 Ann. Loch Ce, vol. i, p. 7. 


in subordination to a supreme king, did not 
in historic times square with the facts. If we Ireland a 
wish to get a truer idea of political forces in ofshffting 
Ireland, at any rate after the period of the ■jJjJjjL 
Norse invasions, we must regard the country 
as split up into about 185 tribes, of which some 
were grouped together in comparative per- 
manence, and some were generally subordinate 
to the principal groups. But we must be pre- 
pared to find these tribes and groups of tribes 
ever and again forming new combinations of 
a more or less temporary nature, either by way 
of alliance or of conquest, and exercising an 
independent judgement as to joining or holding 
aloof from any particular general hosting. In 
fact the question of peace or war in any par- 
ticular instance seems to have been decided 
independently by each petty group of clansmen, 
and in their decision they appear to have been 
more often actuated by their own immediate 
interests, or even by their petty jealousies, than 
by any large survey of the good of the whole. 

If now we go a step further back and seek 
the cause of this — how it was that Ireland, even 
in the latter half of the twelfth century, remained 
in the tribal state, with one tribe or shifting 
combination of tribes incessantly at war with 
other tribes and combinations, while Europe 
generally was settling down into strong cen- 
tralized monarchies — we shall find that it 



was because Ireland lay outside the march of 
Causes of events in Europe. Her Celtic immigrants had 
develop- brought with them from the common Aryan 
ment * home a body of primitive custom, which had 
remained almost unchanged and had never 
been quickened in its development by contact 
with more advanced systems. She had never 
felt the shock of the Roman legions. Her 
institutions had never been pressed into a new 
mould by Roman law and government. She 
had never known the Pax Romana. She had, 
however, been happily exempt from the rush 
of barbarians which followed the downfall of 
the power of Rome in other lands, and to this 
is probably due much of her early civilization 
and comparative advance in the seventh and 
eighth centuries, when her missionary monks 
helped to preserve some of the learning of the 
past and to hand on the torch of a higher faith 
to succeeding generations. Christianity too had 
come to her gradually and peaceably, and had 
not been imposed by the sword of a conquering 
race from without, as was the case with the 
continental Saxons. It left her tribal system 
untouched, or rather the Church took the mould 
of the tribe, and the ' family of the saint ' was 
organized and held property somewhat on the 
analogy of that of the secular chieftain. Hence 
some of those ecclesiastical peculiarities which 
afterwards attracted so much attention. Had 


Ireland been allowed to go her way unheeded 
by Europe, she might in time, and after much 
suffering, have evolved a better ordered system 
with some hope of progress in it, and the world 
might have seen a Celtic civilization where 
Celtic imagination and Celtic genius, free and 
unfettered, would assuredly have contributed 
something towards the solution of human 
problems, which, as it is, mankind has missed 
for ever. But it was not to be. In the ninth Wiking 
and tenth centuries the ' Land Leapers ' from 
the North, ' merciless soure and hardie,' swept 
across the land, pillaging, burning, and destroy- 
ing. The Irish, with their loose tribal organiza- 
tion, were incapable of offering an effective 
resistance. The same cause, by a curious com- 
pensation, saved them from final defeat and 
subjugation. There was no national army 
which, once destroyed, would leave the country 
open to the invader. There was no capital 
city, the taking of which would mark the down- 
fall of the national government. There was 
little to plunder except in the ecclesiastical 
centres. So the Northmen never subjugated 
Ireland, nor made it a Scandinavian kingdom. 
They finally settled down in the walled towns 
they had built on the sea-coast, and from 
Pagans and pirates became Christians and 
traders. But the evil they had done lived after 
them. Their example in plundering churches 


and monasteries, to which art, learning, and cul- 
ture were largely confined, was only too aptly 
followed by the Irish themselves. The march 
of Irish civilization was arrested, nay, put back. 
The primitive literature of Ireland, which seems 
to have survived her Christianization, and even 
to have been preserved in the vernacular by 
Christian writers, was to a large extent lost. 
The authority of the ard-ri, never very great, 
was diminished, and was only co-extensive with 
his might. The power of the subordinate chiefs 
was increased, the influence of the Church, 
which even at home had never advanced 
beyond the missionary stage, was on the wane, 
and the turmoil and anarchy were greater than 

But, it may be said, the Scandinavian inva- 
sions came to an end. The power of the North- 
men was finally crushed at Clontarf, and there 
remained a century and a half before Ireland 
was again interfered with by any extern power. 
Why did she not evolve into something great in 
this time ? Why did she not at least con- 
solidate herself into one nation ? 
Conse- The battle of Clontarf marks an important 

oTthe S epoch in Irish history, but not exactly in the 
a^tarf wa y * n wn ^ cn it * s popularly remembered. It 
(1014). certainly did not rid Ireland of ' the foreigners '. 
The Norsemen remained as before in possession 
of the walled city of Dublin and of the sea-board 


towns which they had created on the east and 
south coasts, whence they dominated the adjoin- 
ing districts, and occasionally joined in the 
internal contests of the Irish themselves. It is 
true that the defeat put an end to the last great 
attempt of the Scandinavian race to gain the 
upper hand in Ireland. Just at the moment 
when the Danes in England were succeeding 
in uniting all elements under one powerful 
monarchy, and making her for the first time in 
history one nation, all chance (if chance there 
were) of a like result in Ireland was at an end. 
But, indeed, the wise government of Swegen 
and Cnut succeeded in winning the allegiance 
of the various kingdoms of England because 
they were akin to the English. They brought 
no novel institutions with them, above all no 
novel system of land tenure, and even their 
language was closely allied to English. Their 
kinsfolk would have had an incomparably more 
difficult task in Celtic Ireland, and they could 
hardly have succeeded where the Normans ulti- 
mately failed. At any rate, for good or for 
evil, the possibility of a Scandinavian domina- 
tion of Ireland was at an end. Yet it may be 
questioned whether the result of the battle 
was not in other respects more disastrous to the 
conquerors than to the conquered. The battle 
of Clontarf marks the downfall of the hopes 
of Brian to establish a strong monarchy in 


Ireland, and the failure of the most promising 
attempt ever made to make Celtic Ireland 
a nation. Whatever Brian's motive may have 
been, whether purely patriotic or largely per- 
sonal, he went nearer to effecting this great 
object than any Irishman before or since. 
Brian's When no more than a sort of outlaw with a 


handful of followers in the wilds of Thomond, 
Brian is said to have spurred on his brother Mahon 
to declare undying war to the foreigners, and to 
have aided him to win back his province of 
Thomond from their clutches. On succeeding in 
976 to his brother's throne, he amply avenged 
his brother's treacherous murder and forced all 
Munster to acknowledge him as king. In 999 he 
defeated the men of Leinster and their allies the 
Norsemen of Dublin at Glenmama. 1 Then, not 
hesitating in pursuit of his great object to ally 
himself with the foreigners, he entered Meath 
and forced the ard-ri Malachy to yield to him 
the crown of Ireland (a. d. 1002). Finally, still 
accompanied by the Norsemen, he marched 
triumphantly through the north of Ireland 2 and 

1 As to the site of this battle see Journ. R. S. A. I., 
vol. xxxvi (1906), p. 78. 

2 There is an interesting proof of Brian's visit to Armagh 
on one of these expeditions (Four Masters, 1004) in the shape 
of an entry in the Book of Armagh made in conspectu 
Briani imperaioris Scotorum, recognizing the supremacy 
of the see of Armagh : Facsimiles Nat. MSS. Irel., vol. i, 
pi. xxv. 


obtained successively the hostages of theUlidians, 
the Cinel Owen, and the Cinel Connell. Having 
thus by the right of the sword made himself 
master of Ireland, he used his power well. 
A glowing picture of Brian's rule is given us 
in what may be regarded as a ' Brian Saga ' * : — 
He proclaimed peace throughout Erin. He 
hanged and killed and destroyed the robbers 
and thieves and plunderers of Erin. He ex- 
tirpated, banished, and ruined the foreigners in 
every district. He killed their kings and their 
chieftains, their men of renown and valour. 
He enslaved their stewards and their mer- 
cenaries, their comely, large, cleanly youths, and 
their smooth, youthful maidens. So that after 
the banishment of the foreigners the poet sang : 

From Tory island to pleasant Cleena, 
While carrying with her a ring of gold, 
In the days of Brian, the brilliant, the fearless, 
A woman might wander alone through Erin. 

He rebuilt churches and sanctuaries, destroyed 
by the Norsemen. He purchased books beyond 
the sea to supply the place of those that had 
been burned and c drowned ' by the plunderers. 
By him were erected the church of Killaloe, 2 
and the church of Inish Caltra, and the bell- 

1 Wars of the Gaedhil with the Gaill, R. S., pp. 136-40. 

2 Not, of course, any part of the existing cathedral, but 
perhaps the stone-roofed church of St. Flannan with its 
early Romanesque doorway, which still stands close by. 


tower of Tomgraney, and many other works. 
By him were made bridges and causeways and 
high roads. He strengthened the duns and 
fastnesses and islands (crannogs) and royal forts 
of Munster ; and continued in this way, peaceful 
and prosperous, for twelve years * in the chief 
sovereignty of Erin. 

Making large allowances for the poetry and 

partisanship of the passage condensed above, 

there seems no reason to doubt that Brian laid 

the foundations of a real monarchy in Ireland. 

But Brian fell at Clontarf , and the edifice he had 

commenced fell with him. He left no successor 

strong enough to maintain the position he had 

won for himself with the sword. Nay, the very 

success of his career made it much more difficult 

for even any of the legitimate line of titular 

monarchs to make his rule a reality. Few 

pages of Irish history are more bitter reading for 

Treat- an Irishman than those which tell of the sub- 

thevic- sequent fortunes of the shattered battalion of 

tors of the Dalcassians, the brave remnants of Brian's 


own tribe. No sooner had they buried their 
dead on the field of battle than dissensions, we 
are told, 2 broke out among the leaders of Brian's 
army. Cian, son of Molloy, and Donnell, son 

1 The writer says ' for fifteen years '. But Brian cannot 
be said to have been King of Ireland until after the 
deposition of Malachy in 1002. 

2 Wars of the Gaedhil with the Gaill, pp. 212-16. 


of Duvdavorenn, leaders of the men of Desmond, 
took counsel together against the Dal Cais ; 
and the men of Desmond, noting how few of the 
Dal Cais had survived and how many of them 
were wounded, said one to the other — c The 
attention of Brian's son will be on you to seek 
for lordship and power such as his father had, 
and should he reach his home it will be more 
difficult to meet him than now.' Accordingly 
they demanded hostages of Donough, son of 
Brian, and insisted on the observance of the 
rule according to which the sovereignty of 
Munster should belong alternately to the 
Eoghanachts and Dal Cais, tribes which drew 
their descent respectively from Eoghan Mor 
and Cormac Cas, sons of Oilioll Olum, King of 
Munster in the third century — a rule which 
had already been ignored when Brian succeeded 
his brother Mahon. But Donough replied 
that it was not voluntarily they had been 
subject to his father nor to his father's brother ; 
for the whole of Munster had been wrested by 
Brian from the foreigners, when the men of 
Desmond were unable to contest it with them, 
and he refused to give them hostages. There- 
upon the men of Desmond arose and took their 
arms to give battle to the Dal Cais, and badly 
would the latter have fared, brave as they were— 
their very wounded, we are told, stuffed their 
wounds with moss and insisted on standing by 

1226 q 


their comrades — only that their treacherous 
foes fell out amongst themselves over the 
division of the expected spoils. ' Wilt thou 
give me an equal division of half Munster, as 
much of it as we may both conquer ? ' said 
Donnell, son of Duvdavorenn. ' That will I 
not give, indeed,' said the son of Molloy. ' If 
thou give it not, then,' said Donnell, ' on my 
word I shall not go with thee against the Dal 
Cais, because I am not better pleased to be 
under thee than under the son of Brian Borumha, 
unless for the profit of land and territory for 
myself.' Thus the conspiracy fell through, and 
before the year was out a battle was fought 
between the conspirators, and Cian, son of 
Molloy, and two of his brothers were slain, and 
' a prodigious slaughter ' was made around 
them. 1 In the following year Donnell, son of 
Duvdavorenn, led an army to Limerick to 
challenge the Crown of Munster, but he was 
defeated and slain by the sons of Brian. 2 Thus 
ended this conspiracy, but it was not the only 
piece of treachery that the heroes of Dal Cais 
had to meet on their return from Clontarf. 
They had reached the ford across the Barrow 
at Athy, and had refreshed themselves with 
the waters, and had cleansed their wounds, 
when they found Donough, son of Gillapatrick, 
King of Ossory, with the men of Leix, lying in 
1 Ann. Ulster, 1014. 2 Ibid. 1015. 


wait for them in battle array on the further 
side, ' for they were natural enemies to each 
other.' The men of Ossory straightway de- 
manded hostages, which Donough O'Brien 
indignantly refused. When the wounded men 
heard of this demand, ' their strength and 
their fury grew so that every man of them 
was able for battle,' and they bade their com- 
rades drive stakes into the ground ' to which 
they could put their backs standing during 
the battle '. The men of Ossory, however, 
intimidated by this wonderful courage in the 
Dal Cais, both whole and wounded, declined 
the battle. 

This whole story, embellished as it doubt- 
less is to heighten the glory of the Dal Cais, 
shows clearly the evil results to the country at 
large of the clan system. The chieftain, if he 
did not fight merely for his own hand, had no 
higher conception of duty than to increase the 
power of his clan ; with this object in view, 
he was stayed by no scruples. The clans- 
man, while ready to lay down his life for his 
chief, felt no enthusiasm for a national cause. 
The sentiment for ' country ', in any sense 
more extended than that of his own tribal 
territory, was alike to him and to his chief 

Just as Brian had disturbed the old rule of 
alternate succession in Munster between the 



The high- descendants of Cormac Cas and those of Eoghan 
the spoil Mor, so, but with still more fatal effect, he had 
strongest. P ut an en( * to tne custom, acquiesced in for 
upwards of five centuries, according to which 
the ard-ri of Ireland was chosen alternately 
from the two great houses of the Hy Neill race, 
or descendants of Niall of the Nine Hostages, 
King of Ireland at the close of the fourth 
century. Henceforth the prize of the sovereignty 
of Ireland was open to all comers. What Brian 
had won by the sword an O'Brien, or an 0' Conor, 
or a Mac Murrough, might win by the same means. 
For the moment the deposed King Malachy was 
allowed to resume the crown which he had been 
forced to yield to Brian. There is evidence 
indeed that the succeeding generation regarded 
Brian as a mere usurper. For just as English 
jurists speak of the year of the Restoration 
as the twelfth year of Charles II, ignoring the 
intervening rule of Cromwell, or as French 
Royalists regard the period 1793-1814 as part 
of the reign of Louis XVIII, so the annalist 
Tigernach, who died in 1088, takes no account 
of Brian's reign, but states that Malachy 
reigned for forty-three years, just as if there 
had been no interruption, and in this reckoning 
he is followed by the annalists generally. 1 
From the death of Malachy (1022), however, up 

1 Ann. Tigernach, 1022. So Ann. Clonmacnois, Ann. 
Ulster, Ann. Loch Ce. 


to the year of Dermot's expulsion (1166), there 
never was a universally acknowledged king of 
Ireland. In the phrase of the annalists, there 
were only kings co fressabhra, ' with oppo- 

At first perhaps Donough, Brian's son, who High 


had foully got rid of his elder brother Teig, was ■ with 
the chief aspirant to the throne, but he never S^ 1 " 
obtained the submission of either Ulster or 
Connaught, and his nephew Turlough O'Brien, 
aided by his foster-father Dermot Mac Maelnamo, 
waged constant war with him, until at length, in 
1064, Turlough wrested the crown of Munster 
from his uncle's grasp. Even before this 
Dermot Mac Maelnamo, King of Leinster and 
Dublin, was the most powerful of the provincial 
kings, and by some is reckoned King of Ireland, 1 
but in 1072 he was defeated and slain by Conor 
O'Melaghlin, King of Meath, son of Malachy, 
Turlough O'Brien was now styled King of 

1 See Ann. Clonmacnois, 1041, where the criterion of an 
ard-ri co fressabhra is given. The name Maelnamo (pro- 
nounced with a short penultimate), in Irish Mad na mbd, 
probably means ' chief of the kine '. Cf. Mdd-ddin, ' chief 
of the fortress,' Mad doborcTion, Mad milchon, ' chief of the 
otters ' and ' greyhounds ' respectively. Mad properly 
means ' bald '. When used with a saint's name, as in 
Mdelpatric, it means the tonsured one (i.e. servant) of the 
saint. Like the Welsh mod it is often applied to a bare hill 
or mountain- top. The transition from the head or top of 
a man or mountain to ' head ' in the sense of ' chief ' is 
easily paralleled. 


Ireland ' with opposition '. He, too, failed to 
exact hostages from Ulster. He died in 1086. 
His son, Murtough O'Brien, was opposed by 
Donnell O'Loughlin, King of Ailech or Ulster, 
who now revived the almost lapsed claims of the 
royal line of Niall Mor. They fought almost 
incessantly for a quarter of a century without 
decisive result. Both are claimed by their 
respective partisans as kings of Ireland. A new 
claimant now appeared in the person of Tur- 
lough 0' Conor, King of Connaught, in whose 
time we first hear of Dermot Mac Murrough. 



To follow the fortunes of Dermot Mc Murrough 
prior to his expulsion in 1166 will lead us into 
a tortuous maze of inter-provincial and inter- 
tribal fighting, but if we wish to understand the 
causes which led to his expulsion and — what 
is more important — gain even a glimpse of the 
anarchy that revelled throughout Ireland up to 
the coming of the Normans, we cannot entirely 
pass over this page of history, amply evidenced 
as it is by unimpeachable Irish authorities. 
We shall, however, omit to notice all fighting 
except what had a direct bearing on Dermot's 
position and fortunes, and merely endeavour 
to piece together what remains into an intelligible 

Dermot was son of Donough Mc Murrough, Dermot's 
King of Southern Leinster, and was born in s i am) 
1110. 1 His father was one of a long line of ni0, 
kings of Okinselagh, who in recent times had 

1 This date follows from the statement in the Book of 
Leinster (f . 20) that Dermot died in the sixty-first year of 
his age. See Song of Dermot, note to 1. 1729. 


won recognition as Kings of Leinster and of 
Dublin, and who once at any rate, in the 
person of Dermot, son of Maelnamo, had even 
aspired to the overlordship of Ireland. This 
Donough McMurrough, Dermot^ father, was slain 
in 1115 in the battle of Dublin by Donnell, son of 
Murtough O'Brien, and the Foreigners of Dublin. 1 
Giraldus says that the citizens of Dublin mur- 
dered Dermot' s father while sitting in the hall 
of one of his chief men which he used for his 
court of justice, and that, adding insult to injury, 
the citizens buried him along with a dog. There 
is no authority in the annals for these particulars, 
which are, however, repeated by Keating, and 
were probably current in Leinster as part of the 
story in Giraldus' s time. Donough McMurrough 
was succeeded by another member of the family, 
and then by his son Enna, both of whom are 
styled kings of Leinster. Enna died in 1 126, and 
was immediately succeeded as lord of Okinselagh 
by Dermot, then in his seventeenth year. 2 

1 Ann. Tigernach [under this head I refer to the con- 
tinuation of Tigernach's annals, 1088-1178, one of the most 
valuable native authorities for this period, edited by 
W. Stokes in Revue Celtique, vol. xviii], Ann. Ulster, &c. 
Donough McMurrough was two years in joint kingship with 
Conor O'Conor, King of Offaly, when they were both slain : 
Book of Leinster (Facsimile, p. 39 d). 

2 According to the Book of Leinster, Dermot reigned 
forty-six years. His reign must therefore have been 
reckoned from the year 1126. 


The youthful King of Okinselagh had, however, 
a long struggle before he was the acknowledged 
King of Leinster. For the past decade Turlough Turlough 
O'Conor, King of Connaught, had been striving aims at* 
to reduce the provinces of the south of Ireland, * h r 0ne . 
with a view to gaining for himself the practically 
vacant throne of Ireland. His general method 
was to harry each province in turn, force it into 
submission, and then divide it between two or 
more kings. But the process had to be repeated 
in each case more than once. In 1115 he divided Attempts 
Meath between two of the O'Melaghlins, one of Meath 
whom immediately killed the other. 1 In 1118 funster. 
he divided Munster, which had been united 
since the time of Brian Borumha, between an 
O'Brien and a Mc Car thy, and hurled the royal 
palace of Kincora, ■ both stone and wood,' into 
the Shannon. 2 In 1120 he expelled Murrough 
O'Melaghlin, the surviving King of Meath, and 
when the so-called ard-ri, Donnell O'Loughlin, 
came to his assistance, Turlough made a ' false 
peace ' with them. 3 Five years later he again 
expelled Murrough O'Melaghlin and placed three 
kings over Meath, one of whom was immediately 
killed. 4 Again and again Turlough constructed 

1 Ann. Tigemaeh, Four Masters, 

2 Ann. Tigernach. 

3 Ann. Ulster, Ann. Loch Ce, Ann. Tigernach, 1120. 

4 Ann. Ulster, 1125. The continuator of Tigernach says 
that Turlough divided Meath into four parts and gave one 


a wicker bridge across the Shannon at Athlone 
and defended it with a fortress, in order that, 
as one annalist puts it, * he might at his pleasure 
have access to take the spoils of West Meath,' l 
but each time, at the first opportunity, the king 
of the country thus threatened destroyed both 
bridge and fortress. In 1121 he laid waste 
Desmond c from Magh Feimhin to Tralee, both 
lands and churches, namely, seventy churches 
or a little more ', until, in the simple but expres- 
sive words of another annalist, ' he caused the 
people of Munster to cry aloud.' 2 In the same 
year he made another plundering excursion as 
far as Lismore and % obtained cattle-spoils in- 
numerable \ On his next expedition in 1123 
to Desmond he was bought off with hostages, 
including the king's son, but before another year 
was out he had the usual ground — a general 
rising against him — for putting the hostages to 
death. 3 

Upon the death of Enna McMurrough, King 
of Leinster, in 1126, Turlough made a hosting 

part to Tiernan O'Rourke, who now * submitted to him and 
made an alliance with him as to doing his will \ 

1 Ann. Clonmacnois, 1132. Turlough made at least four 
other bridges for plundering purposes at Athlone (Four 
Masters, 1120, 1129, 1140, 1155), and each time the bridge 
was destroyed within a few years. 

2 Ann. Ulster, Ann. Tigernach (continuation). 

3 The fullest account is given by the continuator of 


into Leinster and exacted hostages. In the Sets up 
course of the same year he deposed * the son iJlSter 
of MacMurrough', presumably Dermot, and set ( 1126_8 )- 
up his own son Conor as King of Leinster and 
Dublin, to which position, of course, he had no 
sort of hereditary or elective claim. This is 
only one out of many examples of the forcible 
breaking up of the old rules whereby the 
provincial kings were chosen from certain ruling 
families of the leading tribes of the province. 
If the plan had succeeded it might have formed 
part of the meritorious policy of consolidating 
Ireland under one king, but it was premature 
and utterly failed. In the same year Tur- 
lough formed a great encampment in Ormond 
from August 1 to February 1, a veritable 
pirates' nest, from which he sent out plundering 
parties to Connello (co. Limerick), Glanmire 
(co. Cork), and to the south of Ossory, ' and 
carried off many kine and a great number of 
captives '. This was the signal for ' a great 
storm of war throughout Ireland in general ', 
not to be allayed by Cellach, the co-arb of 
St. Patrick, though he was for a year and 
a month endeavouring to pacify the country. 1 
The men of Munster and of Leinster once more 
revolted against Turlough, and their hostages 
were again forfeited. The Leinstermen deposed 

1 Ann. Tigernach, Ann. Loch Ce, Ann. Ulster, Four 
Masters, 1126. 


the king that had been forced upon them, 
but in 1127 they had to accept another nominee 
of Turlough, namely Donnell son of Mac 
Faelain. 1 He came of a family from which 
several kings of Leinster had been chosen in 
the centuries which preceded the rise to power 
of Okinselagh, and he might have been ultimately 
accepted by the North Leinster clans ; but the 
young prince of Okinselagh, in whose family 
the sovereignty of Leinster had been for three- 
quarters of a century, was not prepared to waive 
his claims. Accordingly, in 1128 Turlough made 
a foray-hosting into Okinselagh, to Wexford, 
and thence round Leinster to Dublin, and 
wrought great destruction of cattle on the 
route ; ' but the ill-fame of that hosting,' we 
are told, ' rested on Tiernan O'Rourke.' 2 Thus 
early do we find the King of Connaught and 
Tiernan O'Rourke in hostile relations with 
Dermot. It does not appear whether Dermot 
formally submitted to Turlough at this time. 
Probably he did or was ignored, as we do not 
hear of his taking any steps to assert his claims 
for some years. He was probably biding his 
time until he should be strong enough to assert 
his rights. 
J^ftfa One ugly deed, which may have had a political 
abbess of motive, is ascribed to him, or at least to his 


1 Ann. Ulster, 1127, where see editor's note. 

2 Ann. Ulster, Ann. Loch Ce, 1128. . 


tribe. When Donnell son of MacFaelain was 
set up as king by Turlough 0' Conor fighting 
took place between the tribes of Offaly and 
Offelan as to which of the two tribes should have 
the appointment of the new abbess of Kildare, 
and Carroll, the new king's brother, was slain. 1 
Three years later Dermot appears to have settled 
the question in a peculiarly revolting fashion. 
The house of the abbess was captured and 
burned by the men of Okinselagh and many 
were slain, * and the nun herself was carried off 
a prisoner and put into a man's bed.' 2 The 
motive was evidently similar to that which 
induced so many in high position to blind their 
rivals when they got them into their power — 
namely, while keeping clear of actual murder, 
to incapacitate the victim from holding office. 
Probably the appointment of the successor of 
St. Bridget was regarded as a prerogative of 
the King of Leinster. 

Meanwhile Turlough 0' Conor continued his Tur- 
merciless raids on Munster by land and sea. 2 con- 
In 1127 he drove Cormac McCarthy into the 
monastery at Lismore, and divided Munster 
into two (or three) parts 3 and carried off thirty 

1 Ann. Ulster, 1127. 

2 Ann. Loch Ce, 1132; cf. Ann. Clonmacnois, 1135. 
Neither the Four Masters nor the continuator of Tigernach 
have this entry. That in the Annals of Ulster is defective. 

3 Ann. Tigernach. The Four Masters say that Turlough 
divided Munster into three parts. 



hostages. He had a fleet of 190 vessels on 
Lough Derg, and from this base devastated the 
adjoining cantreds of Munster. His fleet was an 
important element in his destructive strength, 
and it was not only on the Shannon that he had 
ships. His sea-fleet plundered as far as Tory 
Island and Tirconnell in the north and Valentia 
and Cork in the south. 1 But we need not follow 
Turlough in his raids any further. During a long 
reign of fifty years he was perhaps the most 
turbulent of his contemporaries, but it must 
not be supposed that much better conditions 
Fighting prevailed under rulers elsewhere. In the north 
fise- the Cinel Owen were repeatedly fighting with 
where * the men of Uladh and with the Cinel Connell, 
and the subordinate clans were frequently at 
war with each other. Meath was almost 
incessantly fighting with Connaught, and 
Tiernan O'Rourke was always joining in, 
first on one side and then on the other, 
according as he saw some momentary advantage 
to be gained by himself. Meath was itself 
split into opposing factions, and Munster was 
only once able to combine to resist Turlough' s 

To return to Dermot McMurrough. In 1134 

he suffered a defeat at the hands of the men 

of Ossory, but later in the same year, aided by 

the Ostmen of Dublin, he avenged himself by 

1 Four Masters, 1130. 


inflicting a slaughter on Conor O'Brien, the men 
of Ossory, and the Ostmen of Waterford. 1 

Dermot was now a prince whose alliance was Dermot 
worth seeking. In 1137, accompanied by his p0 wer, 
late opponent Conor O'Brien, and aided by the c * 1137, 
Ostmen of Dublin and Wexford with a fleet of 
two hundred ships, he laid siege to Waterford, 
and obtained the hostages, not only of that town, 
but of Donough Mc Carthy (perhaps one of the 

1 Ann. Loch Ce, 1134. In the Annals of Tigernach this 
war is ascribed to the maledictions of the clerics of Ireland 
and Connaught, uttered apparently at the time of the 
consecration of Cormac's chapel at Cashel, which took place 
earlier in the year. The entries are misplaced and probably 
incomplete, but a careful reading will, I think, show that 
the facts as originally recorded must have been as follows : — 
At the time of the consecration a peace was arranged between 
Connaught and Leth Mogha (or Southern Ireland) by the 
Archbishop of Connaught and the co-arb of St. Jarlaith 
of Tuam. The Dalcassians, however, could not resist the 
temptation to destroy or otherwise desecrate the cathach 
of St. Jarlaith. [' The cathach ' was a reliquary brought 
into battle to ensure victory, and the Dalcassians no doubt 
attributed their numerous defeats to the virtue of this 
reliquary]. Thereupon the archbishop and the co-arb of 
St. Jarlaith (who had brought the cathach with him) 
pronounced a malediction on the Dalcassians, which was 
fulfilled within the year by Conor O'Brien's defeat and by 
a slaughter of the Dalcassians inflicted by the men of 
Desmond ; cf. Chronicon Scotorum, 1130, where, however, 
the editor misunderstands the word cathach. The O'Don- 
nells also had a cathach (Ann. Ulster, 1497), which contained 
a copy of the Psalter believed to have been written by 
St. Columba. It is now in the Library of the R.I. A. The 
Cinel Owen probably had another : Ann. Ulster, 1182. 


kings set up by Turlough O'Conor in 1127) and 
of the neighbouring district of the Decies. But 
more than this. According to the Four Masters, 
Conor O'Brien gave hostages to Dermot and 
submitted to him as king in consideration of 
Dermot' s securing to him the obedience of the 
Mc Carthys of Desmond. 1 
His About the same time Dermot made a treaty 

alliance with Murrough O'Melaghlin, King of Meath, 
O'Meiagh- whereby Dermot, quite after the manner of 
lin * modern principalities and powers, undertook to 

come to Murrough' s assistance with his forces 
and at his own charges c against any one with 
as great an army ', provided that Murrough 
would be pleased to suffer him to enjoy with- 
out disturbance the territories of Offelan and 
Offaly. These territories in the north of Leinster 
had recently been burnt and spoiled by the men 
of East Meath. 2 In 1138, in pursuance of this 
treaty, Dermot came to the assistance of the 
King of Meath against the formidable combina- 
tion of Turlough O'Conor, Tiernan O'Rourke, and 
Donough 0' Carroll of Uriel, who once more 
' mustered their forces to contest unjustly his 
own lands with O'Melaghlin '. The two armies 

1 Four Masters, 1137. It does not appear that Dermot 
did anything further to carry out this agreement. Next 
year Cormac McCarthy was treacherously killed by Turlough 
O'Brien, Conor's brother, and in 1139 the Clann Carthy 
were expelled from Munster by the race of Brian. 

2 Ann, Clonmacnois, 1136, 



were encamped for a week in close proximity, 
but eventually separated without a battle and 
without one giving hostages to the other. 1 

Dermot, though now a power to be reckoned His t f h ^ rt 
with in the south of Ireland, had enemies within with the 
his own borders. Among these were Donnell nasof 
MacFaelain, Murtough Mac Gillamocholmog, and 
Murrough 0' Toole, all lords of North Leinster 
tribes. They belonged to families which from 
the seventh to the middle of the eleventh cen- 
turies had habitually supplied kings of Leinster, 
and they no doubt resented Dermot' s claim to be 
their overlord. Donnell Mac Faelain is styled 
by the Four Masters righdhamhna of Leinster. 2 
This term, usually anglicized Roydamna, has 
been translated ' royal heir ' and even ' crown 
prince ', but these are most misleading render- 
ings. The word means literally ( the makings 
of a king ', and a roydamna might more properly 
be regarded as a fully qualified candidate for 
the succession to the throne if a vacancy should 
occur. How exactly he was marked out from 
the rest of the rigraid or kingfolk is obscure. 
He was certainly not regularly elected by the 
tribes concerned, as the ■ tanist ', an officer of 
a later period, was. There might be more than 
one roydamna at the same time. Indeed, at 

1 Four Masters, 1138. 

2 He was presumably the Donnell son of Mac Faelain set 

up as King of Leinster by Turlough O'Conor in 1127. 

1226 D 


* !*$gj >3 

Ou.'ai to 


the period of which we speak at any rate, it would 
seem that the provincial kings themselves were 
seldom formally elected. They appear usually 
to have had to fight their way to the throne, 
battle-axe in hand. The roydamnas, as may 
well be imagined, were often objects of jealousy 
and suspicion to the monarch even after he 
was seated on his throne. So now Dermot got 
rid of his possible rivals in the ruthless way not 
unusual among the provincial kings, namely 
by either killing or blinding them. In the year 
1141 seventeen of the kingfolk of Leinster, 
including those above mentioned, were ' removed' 
for him in this way by his brother Murrough, 1 
an act which in the words of one chronicler 
' brought all Leinster far under hand '. Thus 
did Dermot, like many of his compeers, secure 
his throne with the corpses and pierced eye-balls 
of his rivals. One horror, however, often added 
in the case of other kings, was wanting in his 
case. The slaughtered and mutilated victims 
were not of his own household. 
Conor Dermot's alliance with Conor O'Brien did not 

turns 611 l as t long. In 1141 Conor forced the Ostmen 
iSot °^ Dublin t° submit to him, and in the 

1 Ann. Tigernach, 1141. This, our best authority, 
ascribes the act to Murchad son of Murchad, but on the 
cut bono principle we cannot acquit Dermot (to whom the 
Four Masters and the Annals of Clonmacnois ascribe it) 
of responsibility for the crime. 


same year a great army led by the O'Briens 
raided first Connaught and then Okinselagh as 
far as Wexford. 1 Next year Conor O'Brien died, 
and the sovereignty of all Munster was assumed 
by his brother Turlough. He proceeded to 
carry on incessant war with Connaught. Dermot Dermot 
now was either forced or found it prudent to hostages 
give hostages to Turlough 0' Conor and join o'Co nor . 
him in a fruitless march into Munster, with the 
result that his territory was immediately raided 
by Turlough O'Brien. 2 

Murrough O'Melaghlin, King of Meath, no O'Meiagh. 
longer supported by Dermot, was now treacher- prisoned 
ously taken prisoner by Turlough O'Conor \J U g™ 
1 while he was under the protection of the relics ' Conor 
and guarantees of Ireland '. A long list of 
these relics and guarantees is given by the 
Four Masters ; 3 but no oaths, however sacred, 
bound Turlough O'Conor, who in an unscrupu- 
lous age seems to have been pre-eminent in 
unscrupulousness. He gave the kingdom of 
Meath, ' from the Shannon to the sea,' to his own 
son Conor, who, however, was killed next year by 
one of his new subjects, ' for he considered him 
as a stranger in sovereignty over the men of 
Meath.' 4 The kingdom of Meath was now once 
more the subject of forced partitions and reparti- 
tions. After delivering a battle ' like the Day 

1 Four Masters, 1141. 

2 Ibid. 1142. « Ibid 1143 4 i^id. 1144> 

D 2 



of Judgement ' on the unfortunate Meathmen, 
Turlough divided East Meath between Tiernan 
O'Rourke and Dermot Mc Murrough, while both 
remained under his protection. 1 We can imagine 
what the result of this arrangement might have 
been had it lasted for any time. But it was set 
The aside within the year. The clergy, headed by the 
inter- honoured name of Gilla MacLiag or Gelasius, 
Co-arb of St. Patrick, or, as we should say, Arch- 
bishop of Armagh, now intervened. The Church 
had been directly outraged by Turlough' s action 
towards his son Rory, the future ard-ri 9 whom 
he had imprisoned in 1143 in violation of its 
protection, as well as by his action towards 
Murrough O'Melaghlin, and no doubt the clergy 
sincerely desired to stay the incessant wars 
which were reducing Ireland to sheer anarchy. 
A great hosting and convention of the clergy 
was now held, and Rory, at their intercession, 
was set free. This was followed by a great 
assembly of the men of Ireland convened by the 
two Turloughs at Terryglas in Ormond, where, in 
accordance with the wishes of the clerics and 
laymen, ' they made the perfect peace of Ire- 
land so long as they should be alive \ One 
immediate consequence was that Murrough 
O'Melaghlin was restored. He had, however, to 
share his kingdom with his son Murtough, and 
Meath had to pay an eric of 400 cows for the 
1 Ann. Tigernach, Four Masters, 1144. 


killing of Turlough' s son. Leinster would seem 
not to have been included in the peace, as it 
was raided in the same year by Turlough 
O'Brien. Indeed the ' perfect peace ' did not 
last a twelvemonth. In the very next year Renewal 
(1145) there was great war, 'so that Ireland 
was a trembling sod * convulsed by the move- 
ments of the Kings of Connaught and Munster 
and Meath and Breffny. 1 As Dermot was not 
concerned, beyond having his territory again 
raided by Turlough O'Brien, we, happily, may 
pass over these convulsions. 

A new power soon appeared on the scene. Murtough 
Since the days of Donnell O'Loughlin, the ii nre ^f V es 
northern province, though its various tribe- ^ e t £ im 
groups fought frequently amongst themselves, North to 
had seldom interfered in the disputes of the rest reignty. 
of Ireland. But now Murtough son of Niall 
O'Loughlin, King of the Cinel Owen and repre- 
sentative of the claims of the northern Ui Neill 
to the crown of Ireland, comes prominently into 
notice. After a succession of campaigns, 1147-9, 
he subdued the Ulidians and obtained their 
hostages, and the Oirghialla (or men of Uriel) 
and the Cinel Connell submitted to him. Next 
Tiernan O'Rourke and Dermot McMurrough 
6 came into his house ', the usual expression for 
submission. In 1150, when he is styled by the 
Four Masters King of Ireland, he made a royal 
1 Ibid. 1145. 


journey into Meath, where the hostages of 
Connaught were brought to him without a 
hosting — a significant proof of his power. He 
divided Meath between O'Conor, O'Rourke, and 
O' Carroll; and 'through the curse of the co-arb 
of Patrick and the clergy ', Murrough O'Me- 
laghlin was once more banished. But Turlough 
O'Conor never really submitted to him while 
life lasted, nor did Turlough' s great enemy and 
namesake, Turlough O'Brien. The end of the 
latter' s power, however, was at hand. In 1151 
Turlough O'Conor led an army into Munster 
and, joined by Dermot Mc Murrough and others, 
met the army of Turlough O'Brien at Moinmor, 
and cut them to pieces. ' Until sand of sea and 
stars of heaven are numbered,' says one annalist, 
1 no one will reckon all the sons of kings and 
chiefs and great lords of the men of Munster 
that were killed there, so that of the three 
battalions of Munster that had come thither none 
escaped save only one shattered battalion.' * 
The rape We have now reached the year 1152, when 
gii, 1152! tne ra P e °f Dervorgil took place. In this year 
the two most powerful chieftains in Ireland, 
Murtough O'Loughlin and Turlough O'Conor, 
met and ' made friendship under the Staff of 
Jesus and under the relics of Columkille '. 
Afterwards, in company with Dermot Mac Mur- 
rough, they made a new division of Meath, 
1 Ann. Tigernach, 1151. 


restoring Murrough O'Melaghlin to the western 
half, and putting his son Melaghlin over the 
eastern half. Tiernan O'Rourke, who had claims 
upon Meath under former partitions, did not 
accept this new arrangement. He was defeated 
by the new alliance, and even his territory of 
Conmaicne (the present county of Longford 
and the southern half of Leitrim) was taken 
from him and given to a more amenable member 
of the family, and a stronghold of his, Daingean 
Bona Cuilinn, 1 near the Shannon, was burned. 
It was on this occasion that Dermot carried off 
Dervorgil, his old enemy's wife, with her cattle 
and furniture, the lady consenting to the abduc- 
tion, and her own brother Melaghlin, the new 
king of East Meath, instigating Dermot to the 
act ' for some abuses of her husband, Tiernan, 
done to her before \ 2 Violent and bad a man 
as Dermot undoubtedly was, he was not worse 
or more violent than Tiernan O'Rourke. We 
first hear of the latter in the year 1124, when he 
had a son old enough to be killed, apparently in 
battle, and from that time to the day of his 
death there is hardly a year in which a predatory 
excursion or some killing or fighting by him is 
not recorded. Though he married the daughter 
of Murrough O'Melaghlin, King of Meath, he 

1 Now Dangan, in the parish of Kilmore, county of 
Roscommon (O'Donovan). 

2 Four Masters, Ann. Tigernach, Ann. Clonmacnois, 1152. 


was always fighting against the O'Melaghlins, 
raiding their territory, and aiding in and pro- 
fiting by the numerous partitions to which that 
unhappy kingdom was subjected. No wonder 
the O'Melaghlins distrusted and hated him. In 
1140 his own subjects expelled him, but he 
recovered his chieftainship again. In 1152 he 
must have been at least sixty years of age, while 
his rival Dermot was forty-two, and Dervorgil 
herself had attained the ripe age of forty-four. 1 It 
is impossible that in an age of lawless violence, 
treachery, and loose sexual relations, 2 this elope- 
ment or abduction of a faithless wife could have 
been regarded as a very serious moral offence. To 
O'Rourke, however, it was a grievous persona] 
insult, and one which he seems never to have 
forgotten or forgiven. That it was the sole 
cause of Dermot' s expulsion fourteen years 
afterwards, as stated both by Giraldus and by the 
writer of the Song of Dermot, and affirmed by 
by some of the Irish annals, 3 is, considering the 
lapse of time, too much to assert ; but by making 
a mortal enemy of Tiernan O'Rourke, who, as 
we shall see, was the actual agent of Dermot' s 
expulsion, it directly contributed to that result, 

1 She died in 1193 at the monastery of Mellifont, in the 
eighty-fifth year of her age. 

2 In this very year the great synod of Kells, under Cardinal 
Papiron, found it necessary to pass enactments against 
concubinage and irregular unions. Four Masters, 1152. 

3 Ann. Clonmacnois, 1164; Ann. Tigernach, 1166. 


and we cannot wonder that the popular imagina- 
tion should have exaggerated the personal 
element in the cause, and that a later age 
should have seen a dramatic fitness in the 

Next year Tiernan O'Rourke submitted to Dervorgii 

Turlough 0' Conor and left him hostages, and 

0' Conor marched against Dermot and took 
away Dervorgii and her cattle from him, ' so 
that she was in the power of the men of Meath.' * 
According to a subsequent entry in the Four 
Masters she returned to her lawful husband. 2 
There seems no reason to doubt that she con- 
tinued to live with him. We next hear of her 
in the year 1157 as a benefactress of the newly 
consecrated church of the Cistercian Abbey at 
Mellifont, near Drogheda. To it she gave 
1 three score ounces of gold, and a chalice of gold 
on the altar of Mary (to whom these churches 
were usually dedicated), and a cloth for each of 
the nine other altars that were in that church '. 
Her husband, Tiernan O'Rourke, was present 
among other kings and seventeen bishops, 
together with the legate and the Archbishop of 
Armagh, on the consecration day when these 

1 0' Conor marched to a place called Doire-an-ghabhlain, 
'the oak wood of the Fork,' which O'Donovan failed to 
identify. Perhaps it is the place now called Old Gowlin, 
on the western side of Blackstairs. 

2 Cf. Ann. Tigernach, 1153 : - The daughter of Murrough 
O'Melaghlin came again to O'Rourke by flight from Leinster/ 


munificent gifts were made. 1 Recent excava- 
tions on this site disclose the base of a magnificent 
cruciform 2 building of the transition period, 
which must, however, represent a later construc- 
tion. Ten years afterwards, Dervorgil com- 
pleted the church of the Nuns at Clonmacnoise, 3 
the remains of which to this day afford a beautiful 
example of the Hiberno-Romanesque style. In 
1186 she retired from the world to the monastery 
she had endowed at Mellifont, 4 and here, in the 
eighty-fifth year of her age, in the year 1193, she 
died. 5 
The To return to Dermot. In 1153 we find him 

ofrivais releasing from fetters O'More, the lord of Leix, 
throne. one °^ n ^ s nominally subordinate chieftains, after 
he had been blinded against the guarantee of 
laity and clergy. 6 To blind a chieftain was to 
render him incapable of ruling, and this par- 
ticularly odious method, as it seems to us, of 
incapacitating rivals and opponents was only too 
common in this age. In this very year, for in- 
stance, Melaghlin, son of Murrough O'Melaghlin, 
who now upon his father's death claimed to be 
sole king of Meath, blinded his nephew, son 
of his elder brother, to put an end to rival 

1 Four Masters, Ann. Tigernach. 1157. 
. 2 Fifty-fifth Report, Commissioners of Public Works in 
Ireland, 1887. 3 Four Masters, 1167. 

4 Ann. Loch Ce, Ann. Ulster, 1186. 

5 Ibid. 1193. 6 Four Masters. 


claims, and Teig O'Brien, who had been set up as 
king of half Munster by Turlough O' Conor, was 
blinded by his brother to incapacitate him from 
reigning. In 1136 Turlough O'Conor blinded 
his own son Hugh, no doubt because he was 
considered dangerous. And when his son Rory, 
or Roderic (as he is usually called), the last king 
of Ireland, succeeded him, his first act was to 
imprison three of his brothers and to blind the 
eldest. This revolting practice was not peculiar 
to Ireland. The Welsh chronicles at this period ? 
contain numerous entries of the same barbarity, 
to which was sometimes added a further mutila- 
lation to make sure that the blind victim, 
already incapacitated from ruling, should leave 
no children after him to avenge his wrongs. We 
find even Henry II adopting the custom of the 
country and, in his rage at his want of success 
against the Welsh, blinding his hostages, sons of 
the Welsh chieftains. 2 As regards the blinding 
of hostages, however, it must be borne in mind 
that this punishment was, perhaps not un- 
naturally, regarded as more merciful than putting 
them to death, and the system of taking hostages 
for good behaviour would have been unmeaning 
if, on breach of the conditions, punishment in 
some form had not followed. The blinding of 
rivals was a consequence of the custom by which 

1 Brut y Tywys. for the years 1110, 1124-8, 1151. 

2 Ibid. 1164 (rede 1165). 


the chief was chosen from the recognized ruling 
family or families. All who were eligible were 
naturally suspicious of each other. 

For the next three years Dermot's power, at 
no time very great, seems to have been on the 
wane. In 1154 he was defeated by the men of 
Ossory, and his territory of Omurethy was 
Death of plundered by Tiernan O'Rourke. In 1156, 
O'Conof, however, Turlough 0' Conor died, and there was 
1156. a re-arrangement of parties. In spite of his 
almost incessant plundering (to no good purpose) 
of four-fifths of Ireland, and in spite of his 
cruelty, treachery, and general unscrupulousness, 
Turlough 0' Conor is magniloquently described 
as ' the Augustus of the west of Europe, flood of 
glory and princeliness and veneration for churches 
and clerics, head of the prosperity and wealth of 
the world, one who so long as he was alive never 
lost a battle or a hard conflict, the one man 
coming from the blood of Adam's children whose 
mercy and bounty, charity and generosity, were 
best.' l This extraordinary obituary notice is 
followed by a recital of Turlough' s dying muni- 
ficence to the Church, which may account for 
the extravagance of the monkish eulogy. After 
the lapse of seven and a half centuries we too 
may forgive Turlough much, and remember him 
as the young King of Erin for whom ' the cross 

1 Ann. Tigernach, 1156. The Four Masters repeat most 
of this eulogy. 


of Cong ' — one of the noblest surviving examples 
of native Irish craft — was made in the year 1123. 1 

Just before Turlough O'Conor's death, Tur- Re- 
lough O'Brien was forced to give him hostages ment g of 
for half Munster, and on Rory O'Conor's acces- P arties - 
sion to the throne of Connaught Turlough sub- 
mitted to him. Tiernan O'Rourke, too, had 
made a temporary peace with Turlough 0' Conor. 2 
Dermot, on the other hand, soon afterwards gave 
hostages to Murtough O'Loughlin, now un- 
questionably the most powerful king in Ireland, 
and Murtough in return secured to Dermot his 
whole province of Leinster. 3 A dispute was 
going on as to the kingship of Meath between 
Dermot O'Melaghlin and his brother Donough. 
The latter had been appointed king by Murtough 
O'Loughlin in the previous year, but had been 
deposed by the Meathmen. He was now assisted 
by Dermot McMurrough and the Ostmen of 
Dublin to defeat Tiernan O'Rourke and regain 
his kingdom. Then followed a struggle for 
power between Rory and Murtough, which we 
need not follow in detail. They did not at first 
meet in battle, but each king in turn made a 
foray-hosting to support his own nominees in 
Meath and Munster and depose the nominees 

1 Ann. Tigernach, 1123. Let us try too to remember the 
name — Maelisa, son of Bratan O'Echan — of the wonderful 
craftsman who made the shrine. 

2 Four Masters, 1156. 3 Ann. Ulster, 1156. 


of his rival, with consequent turmoil, fighting, 
and plundering among all concerned. In 1159 
Tiernan O'Rourke definitively cast in his lot 
with Rory 0' Conor and turned against Murtough 
O'Loughlin, but the latter for the time crushed 
the combination at the bloody battle of Ardee, 
and asserted his supremacy over nearly all 
Ireland. 1 This victory was followed up by host- 
ings into Connaught and Meath, and finally, in 
1161, Rory gave hostages to Murtough. 2 

Dermot was now secure in his kingdom of 
Leinster, and high in favour with the northern 
Activity powers, both lay and clerical. The latter indeed, 
northern under Gilla MacLiag or Gelasius, Archbishop 
clergy. f Armagh, come very much into evidence 
about this time. In 1157 the clergy, assembled to 
consecrate the church of the Cistercian monas- 
tery at Mellifont, excommunicated Donough 
O'Melaghlin, King of Meath, for a recent offence 
to the Church, and he was -banished for a time. 
In 1158 Gelasius held a synod in Meath, when 
Flaherty O'Brollaghan, Abbot of Derry, was 
given a bishop's chair with jurisdiction over all 
the Columban communities throughout Ireland. 3 
And now, in 1162, a synod of the clergy of Ireland 
was held at Clane, on the Liffey, in the presence 
and under the protection of DermotMcMurrough. 

1 Ann. Ulster, Ann. Tigernach, Four Masters, 1159. 

2 Ibid. 1161. 

3 Ann. Ulster, 1158; cf. ibid. 1161. 


It was presided over by Gelasius, and attended 
by twenty-six bishops. The synod formally 
abolished the ' scandalous custom ', which had 
been vehemently denounced by St. Bernard, 
whereby the co-arbship of St. Patrick at Armagh 
passed by hereditary succession for fifteen 
generations, and in eight cases had been filled 
by married laymen. They also endeavoured 
to secure uniformity of doctrine and the supre- 
macy of Armagh by providing that no one should 
be a lector (fer leginn) in any church in Ireland 
except an alumnus of Armagh. 1 In this year 
Dermot obtained great sway over the Ostmen 
of Dublin, c such as was not obtained before 
for a long time.' Upon the death of Grene (or 
Gregory), the Bishop of Dublin and Archbishop 
of Leinster, who, like his predecessors, had been 
consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, 
Lorcan O' Toole, son of the King of Omurethy 
and Abbot of Glendalough, was consecrated 
Archbishop of Leinster by Gelasius. Lorcan was 
Dermot' s brother-in-law, and may have owed 
his elevation to Dermot' s influence both with 
the Ostmen and with Gelasius and the ard-rl To 
this period must be ascribed Dermot' s grant of 
Balidubgaill (Baldoyle) to the Priory of All 
Hallows, close to Dublin. 2 

1 Ann. Ulster, 1162. 

2 Reg. All Hallows (Irish Arch. Soc.), p. 50. L[aurentius], 
Archbishop of Dublin, is the first witness. 


For a few years there was no change in the politi- 
cal situation. O'Loughlin continued to hold the 
commanding position and to support Dermot in 
the possession of Leinster, but there was no real 
settlement or lasting peace. Rory 0' Conor and 
Tiernan O'Rourke were merely biding their time 
and watching for an opportunity to crush their 
foes. The opportunity came in the fateful year 
O'Lough- 1166. 

the King O'Loughlin had more than once had occasion 
of uiidia. to assert by the strong hand his supremacy over 
the kingdom of Uladh or Uiidia, a district 
represented by the modern counties of Down 
and Antrim. In 1165 the people of this region 
turned against O'Loughlin, who accordingly 
entered their territory with a large army, harried 
the land, killed a countless number of the 
inhabitants, and expelled the king, Eochy 
Mac Dunlevy. Later on in the same year, at the 
intercession of Donough 0' Carroll, Prince of 
Uriel, Mac Dunlevy was restored to his kingdom, 
on giving as pledges a son of every chieftain in 
Uiidia and his own daughter to O'Loughlin. 1 
The very next year, however, Eochy Mac Dunlevy 
was blinded by O'Loughlin, and some of the 
principal men of Uiidia were put to death c in 
despite of the protection of the successor of 
Patrick and of the Staff of Jesus and of Donough 
O'Carroll, King of Uriel 5 . 2 
1 Ann. Ulster, 1165. 2 Ann. Ulster, 1166. 


This base act of treachery and violation of 
oaths and guarantees was immediately followed 
by the defection of Ulidia and Uriel from 
O'Loughlin, and led to his defeat and death 
soon afterwards. It was also the signal for Rory 
Rory O'Conor to assert his supremacy, and for riseS to r 
Tiernan O'Rourke to avenge himself upon his P ower - 
enemy, Dermot Mac Murrough, now deprived 
of O'Loughlin' s powerful protection. 1 O'Conor, 
accompanied by O'Rourke, marched through 
Meath, where he received hostages from Dermot 
O'Melaghlin, to Dublin. The Ostmen of Dublin 
submitted to him, and he was there inaugurated 
king • as honourably as any king of the Gael 
was ever inaugurated '. 2 From thence, accom- 
panied by the Ostmen, he went to the monastery 
of Mellifont, near Drogheda, and received hostages 
from Donough 0' Carroll, King of Uriel. It was Attacks 
the turn of Leinster next, and Dermot, unsup- and de- 
ported by his great ally, and not able to count J^ nes 
on the fidelity of the Leinster tribes, could only 

1 I follow the order of events as given by the continuator 
of Tigernach ( 1 166), where they form a consecutive narrative. 
With this the Annals of Ulster agree in the main, but the 
Four Masters give the entries as to the killing of O'Loughlin 
and O'Conor's incursion into Tirconnel before his march 
on Meath, Dublin, Uriel, and Leinster. 

2 Four Masters. The continuator of Tigernach says 
that the Foreigners gave the kingship to Rory, and he gave 
4,000 cows to the Foreigners. This enormous ' stipend \ 
shows the political importance of Dublin at this time. 

1226 ™ 


stand at bay in his hereditary principality of 
Okinselagh. The Song of Dermot tells how 
one after the other of Dermot' s urrighs or sub- 
kings deserted him, and of his futile efforts to 
retain their allegiance. Rory marched through 
Leinster, where the petty Kings of Off elan and 
Offaly, always jealous of Okinselagh, at once 
submitted to him and received their stipends as 
his urrighs. Dermot endeavoured to stay his 
progress at a wood called Fid Dorcha, ' the dark 
wood,' which appears to have been the gate of 
Okinselagh in the north, 1 but 0' Conor forced the 
pass. Dermot, in desperation, and that there 
might be the less for his enemies to plunder, 
burned the royal city of Ferns, and gave four 
hostages to 0' Conor, and ' got no glory save the 
corpses of the men of Okinselagh \ 2 With this 
submission O' Conor appears to have been satis- 
fied. He did not recognize Dermot as King of 
Leinster, from which position he had been de facto 
deposed, but he left him in possession of his 
hereditary principality of Okinselagh, and, taking 
hostages from Ossory on the way, returned home 
to Connaught. He remained, however, only 

1 This 'dark wood' was probably the woody fastness 
afterwards known as ' the Leverocke ', co. Carlo w : Dym- 
mok, Tracts I. A. S., vol. ii, p. 26 ; Car. MSS., No. 635. 
It lay about Clonegal (Fiants Eliz. 4918, 5344, and cf. 
Inquis. Lageniae, Carlow, 6 Car. I), and it was necessary 
to traverse it to get to Ferns from the north. 

2 Ann. Tigernach, 1166. 


four nights in his house, when he fared forth 
on a hosting to Assaroe, where the Cinel Connell 
submitted to him. During his absence there, 
Donough O' Carroll and Tiernan O'Rourke, at 
the instigation of the Cinel Owen themselves, 
who had abandoned their lord, marched with 
their forces into Tirowen to take vengeance on 
O'Loughlin. O'Loughlin, now under the ban o'Lough- 
of the Church, and more completely deserted by nee 8,111 ' 
his own men than even Dermot, was slain at 
a place called by the Four Masters Leiter Luin, 
somewhere in the Fews of Armagh. ' A great 
marvel and wonderful deed was then done : to 
wit, the King of Ireland to fall without battle, 
without contest, after his dishonouring the 
successor of Patrick, and the Staff of Jesus, and 
the successor of Colum-cille, and the Gospel of 
Martin, and many clergy besides.' * 

It is a common form with the annalists to His fall 
attribute to a miracle or to the supernatural able to 
agency of the offended saints the deaths of ^ e urch 
persons who had outraged the Church, whether 
by plundering church property or by killing 
those under its special protection. In the case 
of Murtough O'Loughlin, however, there are 
substantial grounds for attributing the sudden 
and complete collapse of his hitherto irresistible 
power to the action of the clergy of the north of 
Ireland, and especially to that of Flaherty 

1 Ann. Ulster, 1166. 
E 2 


O'Brollaghan, the co-arb of Columkille. The 
entry in the Annals of Ulster continues as 
follows : — ' Howbeit his body was carried to 
Armagh and buried there, in spite of the co-arb 
of Columkille with his community ; and Colum- 
kille himself [i. e. the co-arb ?] and the head of 
the students of Derry fasted * regarding it, i. e, 
regarding his being carried to [Christian] burial.' 
There are many indications that about this 
period the Church in Ireland was endeavouring 
by every means in its power to bring about a 
higher standard of fair dealing between man and 
man, and to enforce a more rigorous fidelity to 
the plighted word. 
Tieman Dermot, weakened and humiliated by the 
expels r e defection of the Ostmen, the north Leinster tribes, 
wml** an( ^ Ossory, an( i Dv the l° ss of his great protector 
in the north, was not long allowed to remain 
in possession even of the territory of his own 
group of tribes. Tiernan O'Rourke, fresh from 
his victory over O'Loughlin and confident in the 
support of 0' Conor, was not the man to let slip 
the opportunity of paying off an old score. 
Accordingly he made an alliance with Dermot 
O'Melaghlin, whose territory in Meath he had 
frequently harried and claimed as his own, and 
towards whose house, in spite of his marriage 
alliance, he had been a lifelong foe, and their 

1 This is a late example of the custom of fasting to compel 
the granting of a request, as to which see infra, p. 106, 


united forces, accompanied by the Ostmen of 
Dublin and the revolted Leinstermen, made 
a hosting against Dermot Mc Murrough, ' in order 
to take vengeance upon him for O'Rourke's 
wife.' This is the motive expressly assigned 
for the hosting by our best authority, and we 
may well believe that it was the one which 
mainly actuated Tiernan O'Rourke ; but other 
motives probably influenced his allies. Dermot 
O'Melaghlin, for instance, had an old score of 
his own to wipe out, for Mc Murrough had more 
than once supported the rival claims of his 
brother, Donough O'Melaghlin, to the throne of 
Meath. Besides, Dermot O'Melaghlin had just 
taken hostages from Offaly and Offelan, and 
probably aimed at securing for himself a large 
slice of Dermot' s lost kingdom. The Ostmen 
and the North Leinster tribes always chafed 
under the yoke of Okinselagh, and had many 
deeds of violence to avenge. In the face of this 
combination Dermot, deserted even by some 
of his immediate neighbours, and feeling that 
resistance was useless, fled over sea, hunted out 
of Ireland by his relentless foe. The victorious 
army proceeded to demolish Dermot' s stone 
house (tech cloiche) at Ferns, and to burn the 
wooden defences of his entrenchment (long port). 
The leaders then divided Okinselagh between 
Donough Mac Gillapatrick, King of Ossory, and 
Murrough Mc Murrough, Dermot's brother, and 


sent their hostages to Rory 0' Conor. 1 Enna 
McMurrough, Dermot's son and roydamna of 
Leinster, did not escape, but was captured by 
the King of Ossory, and in 1168, after Dermot's 
return, was blinded by his captor. 

Rory O'Conor had now no rival to the throne 
of Ireland, and he soon afterwards made a 
' great army-circuit ', and obtained hostages 
from all the principal tribe-groups of Ireland 
except the Cinel Owen, and even from these he 
exacted hostages in the next year. 
Dermot's Such is the brief outline of Dermot's political 
crime. lif © and surroundings up to the time of his banish- 
ment. It is usual to describe him as a particu- 
larly turbulent, cruel, and unscrupulous Irish 
king. But this description is certainly not 
borne out by the Irish annals. In turbulence, 
in the matter of plundering expeditions into the 
territories of others, in cruelty to kith and kin, 
in falseness to the sworn word, his record is far 
surpassed by those of at least half a dozen of his 
compeers. This was probably not due to any 
leanings towards moderation and virtue — when 
he had Normans to back him he was ready to use 

1 Ann. Tigernach, 1166. The Four Masters speak of 
Murrough alone as being set up as king. Probably the 
district to the west of the mountains in the modern county 
of Carlow was annexed to Ossory. In 1169 St. Mullins 
appears to have been under the domination of the King 
of Ossory (Song of Dermot, p. 85), and in 1170 O'Ryan of 
Odrone fought with Ossory against Raymond at Baginbun. 


his power without scruple — but simply to weak- 
ness. Except in 1137, when he acted with 
Conor O'Brien and besieged Waterford, and 
again in 1151-2, when he gave hostages to 
Turlough 0' Conor, then regarded as ard-ri, and 
acted with him against his own bitter foes, 
Turlough O'Brien and Tiernan O'Rourke, and 
perhaps once or twice when he defended Meath 
against O'Rourke's aggression, he does not seem 
to have joined in any of the incessant fighting 
that went on outside his kingdom during the 
forty years of his rule. His own family and tribe 
were always loyal to him, and this can hardly 
be said of any other Irish king. A study of the 
annals shows that in Dermot's time, and indeed 
generally throughout history, Leinster was the 
weakest of the provinces. The tribes of North 
Leinster, of Ossory, and of Okinselagh, never 
willingly submitted to the same ruler. The 
Ostmen were in general practically independent, 
and Dermot, like most of his predecessors, had 
no really loyal followers outside his own tribe- 
group. He appears to have been frequently 
engaged in endeavouring to keep in subjection 
the various members of his kingdom and in 
repelling attacks from without, and had it 
not been for the powerful aid of Murtough 
O'Loughlin, who may be regarded as the legiti- 
mate ard-ri, he could not have held out as long 
as he did. After all is said that can be fairly 


said, Dermot' s great crime, for which his name has 
since been held in detestation, was bringing the 
foreigners into Ireland, the foreigners who came 
to stay and ultimately to rule. From this act 
he came to be known distinctively as Diarmait 
na nGall, or Dermot of the Foreigners, while his 
brother, who was set up as King of Okinselagh in 
his room, was called Murchadh na nGaedhal, or 
Murrough of the Irish. 
Dermot However bad a man Dermot may have been, 
Church, he was a munificent patron of the Church and 
was always befriended by his own clergy. 
About the middle of the century he founded the 
Cistercian abbey de Valle Salutis at Baltinglass, 
and the nunnery of St. Mary de Hogges, close 
to Dublin. 1 To this nunnery he subordinated 
the cells of Kilclehin (Kilculliheen, just opposite 
Waterford) and Athady (Aghade, co. Carlow). 
Where Trinity College, Dublin, now stands he 
founded, shortly before his expulsion, the 
priory of All Hallows, and endowed it with the 
land of Baldoyle together with its men (serfs). 2 
About the same time he confirmed a gift of 
lands by Dermot O'Ryan, chief of Idrone, for 
the construction of a Benedictine monastery at 
Killenny ( c Old Abbey,' now Barrow Mount, 
Co. Kilkenny) by a charter which is still extant. 3 

1 Ware. 

2 Reg. All Hallows, Dub. (Ir. Arch. Soc.), p. 50. 

3 Facsimiles Nat. MSS. Irel., pt. 2, p. lxii. Both this 


Finally, about the year 1161, he founded and 
endowed an Augustinian monastery at Ferns, 
near his own royal seat. 1 The ruins existing on 
the site include an interesting example of the 
transition from the old Celtic round tower to 
the later square tower or belfry, viz. a tower 
square below and round above. At this abbey 
Dermot took refuge in the year 1166, after 
burning his house as already mentioned. The 
Song of Dermot supplies a graphic picture of 
the deserted king going about disguised as 
a monk and endeavouring vainly to rally his 
disaffected sub-kings around him. 

Dermot married Mor, only daughter of Mur- Dermot's 
tough O'Toole, King of Omurethy (or Southern amiy " 
Kildare), and sister of the famous Laurence 
O'Toole, Abbot of Glendalough, and afterwards 
(1162) Archbishop of Dublin. Six children of 
Dermot are mentioned. Three sons, namely, 
Donnell Kavanagh, an illegitimate son of whom 
we shall hear more, eponymous ancestor of the 
clan Kavanagh ; Enna, reputed ancestor of the 
Kinselaghs, taken prisoner in 1166 and blinded 
in 1168 by Donnell Mac Gillapatrick of Ossory; 
and Conor, put to death as a hostage by Rory 

and the last mentioned charter are witnessed by Dermot's 
brother-in-law, Archbishop Laurence, i.e. in or after 1162. 
1 See Dugdale, Mon. Angl., vol. vi, p. 1141, for this charter. 
It is witnessed by six bishops and by Laurence O'Toole 
while Abbot of Glendalough, i. e. before 1162. 

>€" «V 



O' Conor in 1170. And three daughters, namely, 
Aife (Eva) afterwards married to Strongbow, 
Urlacam married to Donnell O'Brien, King of 
Thomond, and (probably) Dervorgil, 1 married to 
Donnell Mac Gillamocholmog, a sub-king whose 
territory lay to the south-west of Dublin. These 
marriage connexions may have had something 
to do with the friendly relations which generally 
subsisted among Dermot's sons-in-law. 
Some Like other provincial kings, Dermot, when 

intimates. m power, no doubt had his court officials and 
household officers, but we know little about them. 
One of the witnesses to his Ferns charter is 
described as his chancellor. Maurice Regan, to 
whom we are principally indebted for the 
materials woven into the Song of Dermot, was 
his latimer, or Latin-writer, and appears as his 
confidential agent and messenger. In his All 
Hallows' charter Dermot speaks of Edan, or 
Aedh O'Kaelly (O'Caellaighe), Bishop of Louth 
or Clogher, as his spiritual father and confessor, 
and his foster-brother was an O'Caellaighe, pro- 
bably of the same family. 2 Aedh Mac Criffan, 

1 She is called Dervorgil filia or inien (inghen) Mac 
Murchada in Chart. St. Mary's, Dub., vol. i, Nos. 4, 5, 6. 

2 The son of Dermot's foster-brother O'Caellaighe was 
one of the hostages killed in 1170 (Four Masters). The 
family was probably that of O'Caellaighe, kings of Upper 
Ossory in the twelfth century, the last of whom was slain 
in 1172 (Ann. Tigernach). This fosterage relationship 
probably explains the connexion of Dermot with the Bishop 


who is believed to have superintended the 
compilation of the famous Book of Leinster, 
under Dermot's patronage, was his fer leginn or 
lector. This book, perhaps the chief treasure 
of Dermot's library, contains one of the most 
valuable collections of Celtic lore which have 
survived to us. In it Aedh is addressed by 
Finn Mac Gorman, Bishop of Kildare (who 
appears to have been the actual compiler of 
part of the book), as ' the chief historian of 
Leinster in wisdom, and knowledge, and the 
cultivation of books, and science, and learning V 
We may here add the personal description of 
Dermot supplied by Gerald de Barry, who was 
intimate with those who had known him in the 
closing years of his life. ' Dermot was tall of Hls 

° ** appear- 

stature and of stout build. A man of warlike anceand 


spirit and a brave one in his nation, with a voice 
hoarse from frequent shouting in the din of 
battle. One who preferred to be feared rather 
than to be loved, who put down the nobles and 
exalted the lowly, who was obnoxious to his 
own people and an object of hatred to strangers. 
His hand was against every man, and every 
man's hand against his.' 

of Louth which puzzled the editor of the Register of All 
Hallows (see note, p. 125). 
1 See marginal note, Book of Leinster (facsimile), p. 288. 



From a place called Corcoran * on the coast of Dermot 
Imokilly, a little south of Youghal, Dermot, the Robert 
once powerful King of Leinster, on the first day ^rding 
of August 1166, with some few followers, stole at Bristol. 
away, a fugitive from his native land. After 
a fair passage he landed at Bristol, even then 
an important port and commercial centre, and 
one well known to the Norse merchants of 
Dublin, Wexford, and Waterford. He and all 
his company were entertained by Robert Fitz 
Harding at his house near the monastery of 
St. Augustine, just outside Bristol. This fact, 
which we know from the Song of Dermot, is 
peculiarly interesting, for Robert Fitz Harding 
is a name well known in the annals of Bristol, 

1 Song of Dermot, 1. 221. See this place identified, R.S.A.I. 
1903, p. 418, and 1904, pp. 191-2. The chronicler says that 
Dermot brought with him ' Awelaf Okinad e plus de 
seisante treis \ This last number seems to have been used 
at the time for any small figure, just as 60,000 seems to have 
been used for any large figure ; cf . Fantosme, 1. 161, meinsde 
seisante mil e plus de seisante treis, and see Round, Feudal 
England, p. 291. 


He was an old man in 1166, having been born 
in 1085. He was reeve of Bristol and had 
purchased land in the immediate neighbourhood 
of the town, viz. the manor of Bedminster, 
including the vill of Redcliff on the other side of 
the river, and the vill of Billeswick to the south- 
west, where he had founded an abbey for Augus- 
tinian canons. He had supported Earl Robert 
of Gloucester and Matilda in the struggle with 
Stephen, and had won the favour of Matilda's 
son, who rewarded him with the fief of Berkeley. 
It was probably through the trading relations 
that had subsisted for some time between the 
Ostmen of Dublin and the merchants of Bristol 
that Dermot had become acquainted with the 
reeve of the latter town, and was able to count 
on his hospitality and friendship. These trad- 
ing relations afterwards supplied a motive for 
Henry's effort to colonize the depleted city of 
Dublin with his men of Bristol, and in this 
connexion it is worth noting that among the 
earliest citizens of the Anglo-Norman town 
was ' John son of Jordan son of Harding V 
possibly a nephew of Dermot's host. 
Dermot After staying a while in Bristol Dermot sum- 
from moned his followers and told them that he 
Henry II. j^ reso i ve( j ^ g to Normandy to hold parley 

with King Henry. Accordingly he journeyed, 

to Normandy and set out to seek the king. 

1 Hist, and Mun. Docs, of Ireland (Gilbert), p. 40. 


But the King of England was sometimes as hard 
to find in those days as a criminal in hiding is 
to-day. Where exactly Dermot came up with 
him is not clear, but it was somewhere in the 
more distant parts of Aquitaine. 1 Henry, we 
know, was always on the move. His dominions 
extended from the Tweed to the Pyrenees, and 
throughout this vast region his busy mind and 
active body knew no rest. He spent the 
Christmas of 1166 at Poitiers and then went 
south into Guienne and Gascony. ' The Song ' 
indicates that Dermot had no small difficulty 
in finding him. He went ■ up and down, forwards 
and back, he sent messages and made inquiries ', 
until at last he came up with him and gained 

Now what induced Dermot to take this long Probable 

ii • tt ii reasons 

and troublesome journey? He would never for so 
have undertaken it unless he had good reason oing ' 
for believing that his suit would be successful. 
But what grounds had he for believing this ? 
Had he gone for assistance in the first instance, 
as he did afterwards, to South Wales, we could 
have easily understood his action. Again and 
again Norse and Irish of the east coast had 

1 Giraldus (v. 227) says vaguely that Henry was 'in 
remotis et transmarinis Aquitannicae Galliae partibus'. 
The Song of Dermot (11. 258-9) seems to mention the place 
of meeting, but it is not easy to identify it. 

A une cite Tad trove, 

Que seigfi esteit clame. 


assisted the Welsh, both against the Normans and 
in their own intestine feuds, and Dermot might 
well expect to receive from the Welsh payment 
in kind. Indeed we find a tolerably close 
connexion between Leinster and Wales reach- 
ing back to the dawn of history. But there 
was no such obligation on a Norman king * — 
rather the reverse — and no precedent for seeking 
aid in that quarter. It certainly looks as if 
Dermot knew of Henry's meditated expedition 
into Ireland, and had perhaps even heard of 
Adrian's Bull. At any rate, it is very probable 
that Fitz Harding knew all about Henry's 
designs. He was his intimate and trusted 
friend. When Henry was nine years old, 
Geoffrey of Anjou had sent him to Bristol to 
his uncle, Earl Robert of Gloucester, and he 
lived in Bristol Castle for four years. Then 
was formed his friendship with Robert Fitz 
Harding, which remained unbroken for life. 
When Henry came to England again in 1152 
he was assisted by Fitz Harding, who was 
rewarded, as we have seen, with the fief of 
Berkeley, and no doubt every time Henry went 
into Wales he saw Fitz Harding on the way. 
Fitz Harding, Henry's trusted and favoured 

1 Some ' ships from Dublin and other cities in Ireland ' 
had indeed come to assist Henry in his Welsh expedition 
of 1165, but these were fitted out by the Ostmen and not 
by Dermot. Brut y Tywys. 1164 (recte 1165). 


vassal, must have known of Henry's ambitious 
views with regard to Ireland, and it was prob- 
ably on Fitz Harding's advice that Dermot took 
the unprecedented course of appealing to the 
Angevin king. 

The Song of Dermot gives us an account of Hisinter- 

• i tt t -n view with 

Dermot s interview with Henry. It tells us Henry, 
how Dermot ' very courteously saluted him ' and 
then puts the following speech into Dermot' S 
mouth : — 

May God who dwells on high 

Ward and save you, King Henry, 

And likewise give you 

Heart and courage and inclination 

To avenge my shame and my misfortune 

That my own people have brought upon me ! 

Hear, noble King Henry, 

Whence I was born, of what country. 

Of Ireland I was born a lord, 

In Ireland acknowledged king ; 

But wrongfully my own people 

Have cast me out of my kingdom. 

To you I come to make plaint, good sire, 

In the presence of the barons of your empire. 

Your liegeman I shall become 

Henceforth all the days of my life. 

On condition that you be my helper, 

So that I lose not everything, 

You I shall acknowledge as sire and lord, 

In the presence of your barons and earls. 

However he phrased it, Dermot' s story fell 
upon willing ears. Henry had long cast hungry 
eyes towards Ireland. In the struggle with the 

1226 T3, 


Welsh which had now been going on for three - 
fourths of a century, had not the Irish always 
harboured Welsh fugitives ? Nay, had they 
not frequently given active assistance to Welsh 
insurgents, and, worse still, supported rebellious 
Norman vassals ? Shortly after coming to the 
throne Henry had meditated an expedition into 
Ireland, and had obtained the famous Bull 
* Laudabiliter ' sanctioning the invasion ; but 
the scheme, which was laid before a council 
at Winchester about Michaelmas 1155, did not 
commend itself to the Empress Matilda, and 
the expedition was postponed. 1 No doubt pre- 
texts for war, when required, are in general 
easily manufactured, but here was an admirable 
one offered by Dermot, ready made to Henry's 
hand. For an exiled prince to seek restitution 
by aid of a foreign force was no unusual pro- 
ceeding, nor one repugnant to the average 
morality of the time. True, if such princes 
were wiser and more patriotic than their fellows, 
they might have learnt and observed the great 
historic lesson that such a course was a likely 
way to enslave both themselves and their 
country. The story of Vortigern and Hengist, 
whether true or false, was at any rate believed. 

1 Robert of Torigny, p. 186, says that the project was not 
approved by the Empress Matilda, Henry's mother, and 
was postponed. The evidence as to Laudabiliter will be 
considered later on. 


A similar story was told of the introduction of 
the Romans under Claudius into Britain. The 
Normans appear to have got their first foothold 
in South Wales on the invitation of a disaffected 
native chieftain, and Henry's expedition to 
Gwynedd or North Wales in 1157 was ostensibly 
undertaken to reinstate a dispossessed prince. 
But exceptional patriotism and exceptional 
wisdom are not to be looked for in banished 
princes. Even Harold, son of Godwin, did not 
hesitate in the year 1050 to seek Irish aid to 
restore him to the position from which he had 
been expelled. Instances of Irish tribes using 
the assistance of the Ostmen of Dublin and 
Waterford, or even invoking the aid of the 
northmen of the Isles, 1 to get the upper hand 
over their fellow countrymen, are not rare, and 
at the great battle of Clontarf Irishmen fought 
on the side of Brodir and of Sitric. But if there 
was nothing peculiarly disgraceful to Dermot, 
according to the ideas of the time, in his applica- 
tion, there was certainly nothing to bring discredit 
on Henry in his listening to it and expect- 
ing to gain advantage to himself by acceding 
to it. Do ut des is an old maxim in international 
politics. Dermot's offer suited Henry's am- 
bitious projects much too well to be ignored, 

1 In 1154 Murtough O'Loughlin hired the fleets of Aran, 
Cantire, Man, and the Scottish coast, to fight the fleet of 
Turlough O'Conor : Four Masters, 1154. 

F 2 



but at the moment Henry was unable to take 
full advantage of it. His contest with Becket, 
now in full swing, had stirred up many enemies 
against him, and his whole attention was 
devoted to counteracting their machinations. 
Henry Accordingly, as Henry was just then unable 

Letters to organize an expedition into Ireland on 
Dermot Dermot's behalf, he did what he could in the 
circumstances to secure Dermot's allegiance and 
keep the opportunity open for carrying out 
his own designs later on. He accepted Dermot's 
proffered homage and oath of fealty, promised 
to help him as soon as he could, loaded him with 
presents, 1 and gave him Letters Patent 2 to the 
following effect : — 

' Henry, King of England, Duke of Normandy 
and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to all his 
liegemen, English, Normans, Welsh, and Scots, 
and to all nations subject to his sway, greeting. 
Whensoever these letters shall come unto you 
know that we have received Dermot, Prince of 
Leinster, into our grace and favour ; wherefore 
whosoever within the bounds of our territories 
shall be willing to give him aid, as our vassal 
and liegeman, in recovering his dominion, let 

1 The Pipe Roll of the 12th Hen. II records gifts to certain 
Irishmen. This perhaps refers to Dermot, who, according 
to Giraldus (p. 228), was ' regiae munificentiae donariis 
honoratus plurimum et oneratus.' 

2 Gir. Camb. v. 227. 



him be assured of our favour and licence in 
that behalf.' 

Dermot then returned to Bristol, where he Dermot 
was again entertained by Robert Fitz Harding, Bristol. 
this time by Henry's express command. Here 
Dermot stayed for some weeks, and, having 
Henry's purse to draw upon, lived in good style. 1 
From the ships trading with Ireland he was 
able to get news of what was going on in his 
own country and among his own people ; but 
though he caused Henry's Letters to be read in 
public, and made liberal promises of land and 
ay to all and sundry who might help him, 
e failed in this quarter to obtain the aid he 
sought. Bristol at this time was a thriving and 
growing commercial town, and was hardly the 
place to yield adventurers of the type required 
by Dermot. At length, however, there came 
to him the man he wanted in the person of Meets 
Richard Fitz Gilbert, called by his contem- bow. 
poraries Earl of Striguil and known to all time 
as ' Strongbow ', whose fortress of Striguil stood 
on the cliff overhanging the Wye, where the 
stately ruins of the castle of Chepstow now 

Richard Fitz Gilbert came of the great family The de 
of Clare, so called from one of the many fiefs Wales, 
in Suffolk which had been given by William the 
Conqueror to Richard's great-grandfather, who 
1 Song of Dermot, 11. 300-5. 


was known in Normandy as Richard de Bienf aite. 
We first read of the de Clares in Wales in the 
reign of Henry I. About the year 1109, in 
consequence of the burnings and plunderings of 
Owain ab Cadwgan (of whom as the ravisher 
of Nest we shall hear again), Henry confiscated 
Cadwgan's territory in Ceredigion (Cardigan), 
and gave the lands to Gilbert, son of Richard de 
Bienfaite, known as Gilbert of Tonbridge, if he 
could win it. 1 This practice of issuing ' terri- 
torial letters of marque ' was only too common 
with the Norman and Angevin kings, and we 
shall meet with parallels hereafter. Gilbert 
appears to have accomplished his purpose with 
some success, and to have built castles at the 
mouths of the rivers Ystwith and Teivi. He 
was succeeded by his eldest son, Richard Fitz 
Gilbert, afterwards created Earl of Hertford, 
who appears to have carried on the work of 
colonization and peaceful rule so successfully 
that this part of Wales was ' like a second 
England '. 2 The accession of Stephen to the 
throne, however, threw all England into com- 
motion, and gave the signal in Wales for many 
attempts to throw off the yoke of the foreigner. 
The year 1136 opened with a successful out- 
break 3 against the Norman and Flemish settle- 

1 Brut y Tywys. 1107, Ann. Camb. 1111. 

2 Gesta Stephani, p. 12. 

3 The authorities for this outbreak are Cont. Florence of 


ments in Gower, and soon afterwards Richard 
Fitz Gilbert was waylaid and killed, and the 
Welsh overran and ravaged all his lands in 
Ceredigion. In October in the same year, 
Stephen, Constable of Aberteivi (father of 
Robert Fitz Stephen, of whom we shall hear 
much), and the sons of Gerald the Steward 
(ancestor of the Geraldines of Ireland) met with 
a bloody defeat. The bridge over the Teivi 
was broken down, and ' it was a wretched 
spectacle,' says one chronicler, ' to see crowds 
passing to and fro across a bridge formed by 
the horrible mass of human corpses and horses 
drowned in the river.' Stephen, after some un- 
availing efforts to recover the position, thought 
it prudent or necessary to leave the Welsh to 

Strongbow's father was Gilbert Fitz Gilbert, Strong. 
younger brother of Richard, Earl of Hertford, father. 
He appears as owner of Striguil from perhaps as 
early as 1138, when he seems to have succeeded 
his uncle, Walter de Clare, the founder of 
Tintern. About the same time he was made 
Earl of Pembroke by Stephen. 1 In 1144 he 
subdued Dyved (Pembrokeshire) and erected 

Worcester, 1136-7; Gesta Stephani, pp. 11-14; Brut y 
Tywys. 1135; Ann. Camb. 1136. 

1 Ord. Vit. (Duchesne), p. 917. The statement that he 
held the office of Marshal has been shown to be founded on 
an error ; Round, Commune of London, p. 302. 


the castle of Caermarthen. 1 In 1147 he broke 
with Stephen, who refused to give him the for- 
feited de Clare castles in England, 2 and shortly 
afterwards he died. 

The sobriquet Strongbow appears to have 
been given in Wales to Gilbert Fitz Gilbert, 3 but 
it has clung to his better known son, Richard 
Fitz Gilbert de Clare, whose fortunes we shall 
have to trace. His mother was Elizabeth, daugh- 
ter of Robert de Beaumont, Earl of Leicester. 
He succeeded his father as Earl of Pembroke, 
and with this title we find him as one of 
the witnesses to Stephen's proclamation of the 
Treaty of Wallingford, by which Henry was 
recognized as successor to the throne (1153). 4 
We know little or nothing of him during the 
years that elapsed from the death of his father 
to his interview with Dermot Mac Murrough. 5 
It is probable that his earldom of Pembroke, 

1 Brut y Tywys. 1144, Ann. Camb. 1145. 

2 Gesta Stephani, pp. 127-9. 

3 Ann. Camb. 1149, where he is described as ' Gilbertus 
comes qui Strongboga dictus est ' . His son Richard is not 
called Strongbow by any contemporary authority. The 
earliest mention of the name appears to be in a Tintern 
Abbey Charter (May 22, 1223), the correct text of which 
was given for the first time by Mr. Round, Commune of 
London, p. 309. 

4 Rymer, Foedera, vol. i, p. 18. 

5 We find Richard Fitz Gilbert and Roger, Earl of Clare, 
witnesses to a royal charter ' apud Dover in transitu Regis ' 
in January, .1156 : Eyton's Itin., p. 16. 

like others of Stephen's creation, was forfeited Strong- 


on Henry's accession, as he is always styled position. 
Earl of Striguil by contemporary writers. 
Gerald, in a series of punning antitheses which 
cannot be fully reproduced, describes him as 
' a man whose past was brighter than his pros- 
pects, whose blood was better than his brains, 
and whose claims of succession were larger 
than his lands in possession '. As a past sup- 
porter of Stephen he was out of favour with 
the king, and from a variety of causes he had 
lost the lands in Dyved and Ceredigion and 
about Caermarthen, which had been won by 
his grandfather and held at times by his uncle 
and by his father. It appears that about the 
year 1158 Henry had re-granted the lands of 
Ceredigion to one Roger de Clare, who was 
probably second son of Richard of Tonbridge, 
and cousin of Strongbow. This may have been 
one of Strongbow' s grievances against Henry, 
as he no doubt considered that he had an 
hereditary claim to these lands. Rhys ap 
Gruffudd, Prince of South Wales, however, not 
satisfied with the territories assigned to him 
by Henry, had again and again overrun Cere- 
digion and burned the Norman castles there 
and in Dyved, failing only at Caermarthen itself. 
Indeed, owing to his patriotic energy the power 
of the Normans and of their Flemish dependants 
throughout South Wales had been much curtailed. 


In 1165, 1 in conjunction with the princes of 
Gwynedd and Powys, Rhys dared to withstand 
Henry in person, and the latter, after beating 
in vain against the rocks of Berwyn, had been 
obliged to retire without effecting anything. 
In the autumn of the same year the Lord Rhys 
took the castles of Aberteivi and Cilgerran 
and threw Robert Fitz Stephen, constable of 
the latter, into prison, and in the following 
year he successfully resisted the efforts of the 
Normans to recover the ground they had lost. 
Thus even if Strongbow in 1166 had not, 
strictly speaking, forfeited his claim to the lands 
in Ceredigion and Dyved, it seems pretty clear 
that he could have enjoyed no effective posses- 
sion of them. He appears, in fact, when Dermot 
met him to have been a man who, having been 
brought up to greatness, had fallen upon evil 
days, and who therefore was all the more 
ready to endeavour to repair his fortunes by 
a bold adventure in another country. 2 As 
Lord Marcher of Striguil, however, he was still 
a power in the land ; and as a de Clare 
he had a name to conjure with. We may be 
quite sure, too, that in the incessant border 
warfare of South Wales he had gained an experi- 
ence in fighting against large bodies of light- 
armed, swift-footed, impetuous foes, in a diffi- 

1 Brut y Tywys. 1164; Ann. Camb. 1166. 

2 Wm. of Newburgh, vol. i, p. 167. 


cult country, which was afterwards invaluable 
to him under not dissimilar circumstances in 

After a lengthy conference Dermot came to Agres- 
an agreement with Strongbow. The earl was strong 
to collect a force and to come to Ireland in the bow - 
ensuing spring to aid Dermot in recovering his 
throne, and in return Dermot was to give 
his eldest daughter Eva (Aoife) to the earl to 
wife and the succession of the kingdom after 
his death. Whatever might be said for the 
legality of this arrangement had Dermot been 
dealing with a Norman seignory, it was of 
c curse inoperative under Irish law, whereby the 
provincial kings were, in theory at any rate, 
selected by the tribesmen from one or more 
ruling families. Still, as the position of a new 
chief depended in the last resort on his power 
to compel recognition and the delivery of 
hostages, which were often not yielded until 
after a fierce contest, Strongbow may possibly 
have expected that the force of his arms, after 
winning the throne for Dermot, might be able 
to hold it for himself. But it is very improbable 
that he looked forward to occupying the precise 
position of a Celtic king. He expected rather 
to fill in Ireland a position similar to that which 
his father and grandfather before him had rilled 
in Wales, and he only valued Dermot' s under- 
taking in so far as it was likely to help him to 


win for himself that position. He was, in fact, 
Welsh about to extend to Ireland a method of acquisi- 

T}£1 Vf\ 1 1 f 1 ^ 

tion which had already been successfully adopted 
in Wales. What title had he or any Norman 
in Wales but the title of the sword, backed by 
the licence of a king ill recognized in Wales ? 
True, Norman and Angevin kings had more 
than once led armies into Wales, and had 
recently wrested from the native princes an 
unwilling homage and oath of fealty, but the 
royal armies had followed, and not preceded, 
the granting of the original licence and the 
victory of the private sword, and in the case 
of Ireland the royal armies would no doubt 
follow in the same way. Even the proposed 
native marriage had its successful precedent. 
It was in all probability largely owing to the 
marriage of Gerald of Windsor with the daughter 
of the King of South Wales that Gerald and the 
sons of Gerald had been able to hold their own 
in Dyved, 1 whence other adventurers, uncon- 
nected with the native princes, had been again 
and again expelled. There was only one point 
in which the parallel was perhaps incomplete. 

1 So Bernard of Newmarch, who won for himself the 
territory of Brecknock, married a native wife, Nest, grand- 
daughter of Gruffudd ap Lly welyn : Gir. Camb. vi. 28. 
Similarly William Martin, grandson of Martin of Tours, 
strengthened his position in Kernes by his marriage with 
Angharad, daughter of Rhys ap Gruffudd : Owen's Pem- 
brokeshire, Preface, vii, and p. 39. 


Strohgbow's grandfather, Gilbert de Clare of 
Tonbridge, had received a personal licence from 
his sovereign, Henry I, before he made sword- 
land for himself in Ceredigion, and so no doubt 
had most of the other adventurers in Wales. 
But the licence which Dermot had obtained 
from Henry II was in general terms and ad- 
dressed to all and sundry. It would be safer, 
therefore, to get special leave from the king 
before embarking on this new adventure ; other- 
wise the earl might forfeit the lands he already 
possessed, as well as those to which he had 
hereditary claims, without being allowed to 
retain those which he might acquire in Ireland. 
This thought seems to have made him hesitate 
and delay * for two years to fulfil his part of the 
bargain with Dermot. 

Meanwhile Dermot had to content himself Dermot 
with the conditional undertaking from Strong- south 
bow, and, despairing of obtaining further assis- 
tance in the neighbourhood of Bristol, he set 
out along the coast route through South Wales 
to St. Davids. Dermot probably took this 
journey, not, as Gerald suggests, for the 
pleasure of inhaling the scent of his beloved 

1 The Earl of Striguil is stated to have formed one 
of the escort of the Princess Matilda on her leaving 
England, probably late in September 1167, for her 
marriage with Henry, Duke of Saxony : R. de Dice to, 
vol. i, p. 330. 


country, or of feasting his eyes with the sight 
of his native land (though the distance is such 
that it is difficult, even on the clearest day, to 
distinguish between mountains and clouds), but 
with the much more practical expectation of 
securing further aid either from the Welsh 
themselves or from the Norman adventurers 
still holding their own in those parts. Indeed 
it is possible that Strongbow himself may 
have directed him to this district, with which, 
as having been included in his lost lordship, he 
must have been familiar. Certain it is that 
the men whose services Dermot was now to 
secure, and who afterwards took so prominent 
a part in the invasion of Ireland, belonged 
to a family which had been long connected 
in feudal relation with the de Clares, though 
their kinsman, Gerald de Barry, takes no notice 
of the connexion. This remarkable family, 
though thorough Normans in character and 
training, were linked together by common de- 
scent from a Welsh princess, Nest, daughter of 
Rhys ap Tewdwr, the last independent king 
of South Wales, and grandfather of Rhys ap 
Gruffudd, who at this time, in the estimation of 
the Welsh, was the lawful prince. 
The pro- In an age and country of loose morals, this 
Nest.° lady was perhaps conspicuous for her laxity. At 
one time she had a royal lover in the person of 
Henry I, by whom she had a son named Henry, 


who was slain in Anglesea in 1157. 1 He left two 
sons, Meyler and Robert, both of whom settled 
in Ireland, the former figuring conspicuously 
among her early invaders and rulers. Early 
in the twelfth century, Gerald, younger son of 
Walter Fitz Other, castellan of Windsor, married 
Nest. We first hear of this remarkable man in 
Wales in the year 1097, when he was castellan 
of Pembroke under Arnulf de Montgomery. 2 
This castle was originally but a slender fortress 
surrounded by an earthen vallum and a palisade, 
as indeed we may be pretty sure were nearly 
all the first castles built by the Normans in 
Wales ; but its splendid position on a rock, 
washed on three sides by a pill or arm of the sea, 
rendered it strong enough to withstand more 
than one siege. 3 Gerald's grandson, the his- 
torian Gerald de Barry, tells us that Gerald 
married Nest in order to make himself and his 
dependants more secure. There can indeed be 
little doubt that Gerald's union with a W T elsh 
princess was of material aid to him and his sons 
in holding their own among the warlike clans 

1 Brut y Tywys. 1156; Ann. Camb. 1158; Gir. Camb. 
vi. 130. 

2 Brut y Tywys. 1095. Gir. Camb. vi. 89. In 1102, at 
the time of his rebellion against Henry I, Arnulf sent 
Gerald to Ireland to ask for the daughter of Murtough 
O'Brien, King of Ireland, in marriage and for military assis- 
tance, both of which he obtained. Brut y Tywys. 1100. 

3 Brut y Tywys. 1092, 1094; Gir. Camb. vi. 90, 


of South Wales. About the year 1 108 x Nest was 
carried off from her husband by Owain ap 
Cadwgan from the new castle which Gerald had 
just built at a spot called Kenarth, or Kengarth 
Bychan. 2 The Chronicle of the Princes gives 
a graphic account of the rape, and we are left 
to suspect that in her case, as in that of Dervorgil, 
rapta nimirum fuit quia rapi voluit. ' They took 
Nest with her two sons and a daughter, and also 
another son that he (Gerald) had by a concubine.' 
Who this last son was is not clear, but William, 
the eldest son of Gerald, is afterwards in the same 
chronicle called ' the Bastard '. Gerald de Barry, 
however, calls him the eldest son by Nest, and 
gives no hint of his illegitimacy. The other 
children may have been Maurice, ancestor of 
the earls of Leinster and of Desmond, David, 
afterwards Bishop of St. Davids, and Angharat, 
afterwards wife of William de Barry and mother 
of Gerald the historian. At least, these are 
all of Nest's children believed to have been 
children of Gerald. These children, shortly 
after Owain carried them off, were restored to 

1 Brut y Tywys. 1106; Ann. Camb. 1110. 

2 Cenn -garth would mean an eminence which is enclosed 
or fortified, or has an enclosure or fortification upon it. 
Rhys, Arch. Camb., 1895, p. 23. From one of the later 
MSS. of the Brut this appears to have been regarded as 
referring to a rebuilding of Pembroke Castle itself. But 
this is doubtful, and some think the site intended was that 
of Carew Castle. 


their father at the intercession of Nest, who, 
we are told, said to Owain, ' If thou wilt have 
me faithful to thee and remain with thee, send 
my children to their father.' Whether she 
remained with Owain, who afterwards became 
a sort of outlaw and was finally killed by Gerald, 
or whether she returned to her husband, we are 
not told, but her ' faith unfaithful ' did not 
' keep her falsely true ', for, in addition to three 
other sons and a daughter of doubtful paternity, 1 
she had a son by yet another husband or lover 
(it is uncertain which), namely Stephen, the 
Constable of Aberteivi, now known as Cardigan. 
This son was Robert Fitz Stephen, of whom also 
we shall hear much. He outlived his half- 
brothers, and may have been their junior. 

When Dermot was journeying through Wales, Agree- 
Robert Fitz Stephen was a prisoner of Rhys ap with 
Gruffudd. 2 Rhys, as we have seen, was very j^p heru 
much dissatisfied with the districts assigned to 
him by Henry in 1157, and had on more than 
one occasion opposed the king and ravaged the 
lands occupied by the Normans, especially Cere- 
digion. In the year 1165, in one of these efforts 
to recover his hereditary dominions, he took 
the castle of Cilgerran on the Teivi, a little above 
Cardigan, and imprisoned his cousin, Robert 

1 Their names were William Hay, Hoel, Walter, and 
Gledewis : Gir. Camb., De Rebus, vol. i, p. 59. 

2 Gir. Camb. v. 229 ; Song of Dermot, 11. 374-99. 
me G 


Fitz Stephen, its castellan. Gerald de Barry tells 
us that Rhys had just released Robert Fitz 
Stephen after three years' imprisonment, on 
condition that he would join him against Henry, 
a condition which Fitz Stephen was reluctant to 
perform. Now, however, at the intercession 
of David Fitz Gerald, Bishop of St. Davids, 
and of his brother Maurice, Rhys, at Dermot's 
request, consented to a new disposition of his 
prisoner. It was accordingly arranged that 
Robert Fitz Stephen and Maurice Fitz Gerald 
should cross over to Ireland in the ensuing 
spring to aid Dermot in recovering his territories, 
Dermot on his part promising to grant to them 
the town of Wexford with two adjoining cantreds 
in fee. This was obviously an arrangement to suit 
all parties. Rhys, who no doubt sympathized 
with Dermot, but was quite unable to spare 
any native troops, would get rid of a number 
of foreigners from his territories ; Fitz Stephen 
was to get his liberty without onerous conditions ; 
and both he and Maurice would have a better 
prospect of winning sword-land for themselves 
in Ireland than they had at that moment in 
Wales, where Rhys was carrying all before him, 
and was no longer leaving even his aunt's 
descendants unassailed. Dermot, on his side, 
was obtaining valuable aid at the cost of a town 
which did not belong to him, but was held 
adversely by the Norsemen, and of the adjoining 


districts, which, as lying between the two 
Norse towns of Wexford and Waterford, were 
probably at no time very remunerative to him. 

This arrangement having been made, Dermot Dermot 
proceeded on his journey to Ty Dewi, or St. St. 
Davids, the extreme western point of Wales, 
where he was only the distance of one day's sail 
from his hereditary kingdom. Here he was 
probably entertained by David Fitz Gerald, the 
bishop of the place, who, we are told, sympathized 
warmly with the unfortunate exile. The rule 
of celibacy among the clergy was not strictly 
observed in Celtic districts at that time, and 
the bishop had a son named Milo or Miles, 
who afterwards fought valiantly for Dermot, 
received from Strongbow a large grant of lands 
in Southern Ossory, and was the ancestor of the 
Geraldine barons of Iverk. 

The bishop's palace, the splendid ruins of 
which remain at St. Davids, was not then in 
existence, nor was the present beautiful cathedral. 
No doubt they were represented by more modest 
structures. The little river Alun still babbles 
by the cathedral close, but the famous slab 
that bridged it, the Lechlawar, has not only 
ceased to speak, but has ceased in any recog- 
nizable shape to exist. A few carved and 
inscribed tombstones have alone survived the 
wreck of centuries. Gerald's description of 
the surroundings is, however, still applicable. 



' Menevia,' as he calls St. Davids, ' is situated 
in a most remote corner of land upon the Irish 
Ocean, with soil stony and barren, neither 
clothed with woods, diversified by rivers, nor 
adorned by meadows, ever exposed to the 
winds and tempests,' though happily no longer 
1 subject to the hostile attacks of the Flemings 
on one side and of the Welsh on the other \* 
The coast is rocky, but indented with numerous 
little bays and natural havens. From one of 
Returns these Dermot embarked early in August 1167, 
n67 G an an d landing, perhaps at Glascarrig, on the coast 
of Wexford, made his way straight to Ferns. 
Why he did not wait to return in company with 
his promised auxiliaries is not clear. His bold 
resolve can hardly have been due merely to 
impatience at the sufferings of his continued 
exile, as stated by Gerald. It is more probable 
that it was owing to the receipt of intelligence 
of a movement in his favour among his own 
tribesmen. Certainly we hear of no opposition 
from his brother, Murrough ' of the Irish ', who 
had been set up as king in his room, nor from 
the men of Okinselagh. 

1 Gir. Camb. vi. 102. 



Before resuming our narrative it will be 
useful to consider some aspects of the social 
state of Ireland in the period immediately prior 
to the coming of the Normans, and to glance at 
its physical aspect. 

In its physical features Ireland in the twelfth Hibemia 
century was in some respects very different from et paiu- 1S 
the Ireland of to-day. It was more watery and dosa " 
much more woody. Even now, in the western 
and northern regions, the island abounds in 
great shallow lakes. A line drawn from Dundalk 
to Kenmare will leave nearly all these lakes on 
its north-western side. But there is reason to 
believe that in the twelfth century and earlier 
the water levels were everywhere higher than 
they are to-day, and that much of the lowlands, 
even south-east of the above line, was marshy 
and dotted with small lakes which have since 
been drained away. As an example we may 
mention the place called Lagore (Loch Gabhar), 
near Ratoath in East Meath. In 934 ' the 
island ' (i. e. the crannog or fortified island) here 


was destroyed by Olaf, grandson of Ivar. 1 The 
site is well known, but the lake has been drained 
away, and now there remains a small low-lying 
plain with a low mound in the middle. The place 
has yielded vast quantities of bones and many 
weapons and other articles. 2 

Probably the climate was more humid than 
it is at present, but indeed the description of it 
given by Gerald de Barry applies to most districts 
to-day. He lays much stress on the rains and 
general moisture, which in spite of a fertile soil 
prevented the due ripening of the corn. ' What 
the Spring germinates and brings forth, and the 
Summer nourishes and advances, can with diffi- 
culty,' he says, ' be garnered in Autumn owing 
to the excessive rain.' 3 No Irish farmer will 
discredit the statement ; he will only wonder 
how without time-saving machinery crops could 
have been garnered at all. 

Ireland was also much more woody than at 
any subsequent time. Indeed the woods appear 
to have covered the greater part of the island 
known to Gerald. 'There are,' he says, ' in places 
beautiful champaign lands, but in comparison 
with the forest regions they are of small extent.' 4 
Even at the close of the sixteenth century 

1 Ann. Ulster, 934. In 851 the islands in the east of 
Bregha (East Meath) are mentioned. 

2 Proceedings R. I. A. (1840), vol. i, p. 420. 

3 Gir. Camb. v. 27. 4 Ibid., p. 26. 


there were several woody fastnesses in each 
of the four provinces, of which but slight, if 
any, remains are to be seen to-day. 1 Through 
these woods tracks were cut in places, and from 
time to time cleared, and when we read of a fight 
in a ' pass ' it is often a pass through the woods 
that is intended. 

Communication was difficult, especially be- 
tween the provinces. There were, of course, 
roads of some sort in all inhabited places, besides 
a few main roads 2 (though no such roads as the 
Romans left behind them in England), but there 
were few permanent bridges over the larger 

When we turn from the land to the people, 
and try to form an accurate picture of their 
political organization, their social customs, and 
their manner of living generally in the period 
immediately preceding the Norman invasion, 
we are confronted with a mass of scattered 
material embodied in Irish literary remains of 
various dates and degrees of credibility. To 
collect, sift, and present in synthetic form the 

1 See the list in Dymmok's 'Treatice of Ireland' (1599). 

2 See Joyce, Social Hist., vol. ii, p. 393. When Giraldus 
(v. 26) says of Ireland, amongst other characteristics, that 
it was ' terra deserta, invia, sed aquosa ' (modelling his 
language on Psalm lxii. 3) he does not mean, as has been 
supposed, that it was all ' trackless ' any more than that it 
was all ' desert ' or all ' marshy ' . He was no doubt referring 
to the vast regions of bog, forest, and mountain-land only. 


facts to be deduced from these Irish sources, so as 
to give as complete and as authentic a picture 
as possible, is fortunately beyond the scope of 
this work. 1 We shall here attempt to explain 
briefly those customs and institutions only 
which principally distinguished the native Irish 
from the Norman invaders, and which must be 
borne in mind if we would rightly understand 
the subsequent history of the two peoples. The 
most authentic information as to these customs 
and institutions is to be gathered from the 
Brehon Law Tracts, 2 and accordingly to these 
we shall first direct our attention. 

There was no regular machinery in Ireland for 
the enactment of laws or for the judicial enforce- 
Custom- ment of customs normally observed. The so- 
called Brehon Law was really a body of customs 
which had no known commencement, but which 
had been observed more or less faithfully from 
time immemorial. These customs, speaking 
generally, were not peculiar to Ireland. Prob- 
bably the nucleus from which they grew was at 
one time the common heritage of the whole 
Aryan family of races. But in Ireland customary 
law had been developed from within, and was 

1 This is to be the less regretted as a praiseworthy, though 
somewhat uncritical, attempt 'at opening up the entire 
field ' has been recently made by Dr. P. W. Joyce in his 
Social History of Ancient Ireland (1903). 

2 Ancient Laws of Ireland. Five volumes have been 
published and a useful Glossary. 


almost entirely uninfluenced by contact with 
other peoples. Until the coming of the Normans 
— and then only partially — Ireland never felt 
the direct influence of a race more advanced 
than herself. She never experienced the stern 
discipline of Roman domination, nor acquired 
from the law-givers of modern Europe a concep- 
tion of the essential condition of a progressive 
society, the formation of a strong state able to 
make and, above all, enforce the laws. Some 
modification in her ancient customs no doubt 
took place owing to the influence of Christian 
missionaries, but the great change they effected 
mainly concerned religious beliefs and obser- 
vances, and left political, legal, and social insti- 
tutions almost untouched. That an attempt 
was made by the early Christian Church to intro- 
duce the death-penalty for murder instead of 
pecuniary compensation may be reasonably in- 
ferred from the case of the murder of Odhran, 
St. Patrick's charioteer, as traditionally reported 
in the introduction to the Senchus Mor, the oldest 
of the Brehon Law Tracts. But the attempt 
failed, and indeed the history of Ireland many 
centuries later has shown that nothing short of 
an entirely new judicial system, backed by a 
powerful executive, could effect this reform. 
Accordingly the body of primitive customs which 
the Gaels brought with them to Ireland was 
slowly developed and expanded from within, 


first by the Druids, and then by their christianized 
successors, the brehons. 
The The brehons were a class, tending to become 

hereditary, of persons who alone possessed an 
intimate knowledge of these immemorial customs, 
and who for a fee offered themselves as skilled 
arbitrators to decide disputes in accordance 
therewith. No adequate machinery, however, 
existed either for compelling the submission of 
a dispute to the arbitration of a brehon or for 
enforcing obedience to the award when given. 
Much of the Senchus Mor is taken up with the 
law of Distress as a method of inducing the 
defendant, or party distrained, to consent to 
arbitration. In the case of persons of distinction 
it was necessary for the plaintiff to begin by 
fasting (troscad) on his debtor's doorstep until 
he received a pledge of submission to law. 1 
This curious custom has been shown to have 
existed until recently among the Hindoos, by 
whom it was called ' sitting dharna ' . 2 Its attested 
existence at the two extremities of the Aryan 
world affords an interesting indication of a com- 
mon origin. But it may be asked, What if the 

1 Brehon Laws, vol. i, p. 112, 1. 15. There are many 
allusions in the religious legends and romantic tales of 
Ireland to ' fasting ' to obtain an advantage over an oppo- 
nent, or to compel the granting of a request. See Joyce, 
Social Hist., vol. i, pp. 206-7. An example from the Annals 
as late as the year 1166 was referred to supra, p. 68. 

2 See Maine, Early Institutions, pp. 297-301. 


defendant forcibly resisted the distraint or let 
his creditor starve ? It is not enough to reply 
that in that case he would render himself liable 
to increased penalties. How were these to be 
enforced ? The Druid, who like the Brahmin was 
priest as well as judge, could threaten immediate 
supernatural terrors, which in most cases would 
be effective, but the christianized brehon could 
rely on this aid only in a secondary degree. The 
ultimate sanction of his award was, after all, 
only public opinion. Contumacy might be fol- 
lowed by social ostracism. 1 This absence of an 
effective sanction was the greatest defect in the 
whole system. 

Most of the Brehon Law Tracts consist of an Brehon 
ancient text, to which have been subsequently Tracts. 
added glosses, or explanations of words and 
phrases, and more lengthened commentaries. 
The tracts do not form a code of laws, or even 
a systematic digest. In all probability they 
were the work of the brehons, and were used as 
textbooks in their law schools. Only in a long 

1 So with the continental Gauls : — ' Si qui aut privatus aut 
populus eorum (Druidum) decreto non stetit, sacrificiis 
interdicunt. Haec poena apud eos est gravissima. Quibus 
ita est interdictum, hi numero impiorum ac sceleratorum 
habentur, his omnes decedunt, aditum sermonemque 
defugiunt, ne quid ex contagione incommodi accipiant, 
neque his petentibus ius redditur neque honos ullus com- 
municatur ' : Caesar, Bell. Gall. vi. 13. It was the primitive 
* boycott \ 


course of time did they assume their present 
shape. Some of the tracts have the appearance 
of a law professor's notebook, into which headings 
only of presumably well-known rules, or even 
mere titles of departments of law, were copied as 
texts for exegetical dissertation. In utilizing 
these tracts as evidence of customs existing in 
the twelfth century, we are met at the outset by 
the difficulty of dating works of such gradual 
growth. The text of the Senchus Mor, the most 
important and probably the oldest of these 
tracts, has been variously assigned by competent 
scholars to about the year 800, or to about two 
centuries later. 1 This at first sight leaves a wide 

1 M. D'Arbois de Jubainville fixes on the former date : 
Lit. Celtique, vol. vii, pp. 332-46. The oldest MSS. into 
which the Senchus Mor has been copied date from the four- 
teenth century, and some of the glosses and commentaries 
may be no earlier, but the text is cited in the Lebor na 
h. Uidre and Liber Hymnorum, MSS. dating from c. 1100. 
Both the introduction and the glossed text of the Senchus 
Mor are cited in Cormac's Glossary, and this work is believed 
to have been written by Cormac Mac Cuilennain (ob. 907). 
The Senchus Mor mentions no law-book, nor does the word 
lebor occur in the text. It, however, speaks of the recht 
litre, meaning the Canon Law, probably the collection of 
c. 700. These and other indications point, in M. D'Arbois' 
opinion, to c. 800 as the date of the text. Dr. Whitley 
Stokes, from a consideration of the verbal forms, believed 
that the Senchus Mor was compiled in, or perhaps slightly 
before, the eleventh century. The two opinions may be 
reconciled if we suppose the verbal forms to have been 
modernized in a recension of about the later date. 


margin of possible error as to the date of the 
original text, but, as suggested in the note, the 
two opinions are not irreconcilable, and in any 
case there can be no doubt that the glosses and 
commentaries extend to a much later period. 
While some of the customs embodied in these 
tracts can be traced back to a period even long 
anterior to the eighth century, it is improbable 
that elaborate dissertations on obsolete customs 
would be copied into textbooks in the fourteenth 
century, and purely antiquarian matter can in 
general be distinguished. Moreover, seeing that 
the picture of society presented by the Brehon 
tracts can be shown by other testimony to be 
in many important respects essentially true of 
purely Irish districts up to the close of the 
sixteenth century, and in view of the undoubted 
almost stationary nature of Irish society, we 
cannot be far wrong in assuming that at least 
those customs which are elaborated in the com- 
mentaries were in full force in the twelfth century 
and even somewhat later. 

Owing to the confused and often contradictory 
statements in the tracts, and especially in the 
commentaries, and to the obscurity surrounding 
the technical terms employed, it is almost im- 
possible to gain a clear and consistent view of 
these customs. Different modern writers have 
drawn very different conclusions from them, 
and I can only give the brief results of my 



own independent study of the published tracts 
and of other sources, without being at all con- 
fident that they are in all respects correct. 1 
Land First as regards the customary methods of 

holding land. According to the theory of 
Celtic law the land belonged to the tribe that 
occupied it. At the stage reached in the twelfth 
century the land of Ireland appears to have been 
divided into about 185 cantreds (iricka ced or 
tuatha), 2 and these may be regarded as so many 
distinct tribal territories. Some of this land, 
however, from an early date appears to have 

1 Of previous writers I have found M. D'Arbois de 
Jubainville (Etudes sur le Droit Celtique) the most illumi- 
nating, and, in a less degree, Sir Henry Maine (Early 
History of Institutions). Dr. Atkinson's Glossary is useful 
for checking the published translations. It leaves, however, 
many of the most difficult points undecided, and has not 
escaped the severe criticism of Dr. Stokes. 

2 Keating, Hist, of Ireland (Ir. Texts Soc), vol. i, p. 128. 
Each cantred contained 30 ballybetaghs, and each bally- 
betagh 12 seisreachs or ploughlands. Giraldus (vol. v, 
p. 145) gives 176 cantreds, each cantred containing 100 vills. 
The term tricha ced means ' thirty hundreds ', and if we 
suppose each ballybetagh to be estimated to contain 100 
homesteads, and each vill 30 homesteads, we can reconcile 
the two methods of subdivision. A ploughland contained 
120 Irish acres, each of which, Keating says, was equivalent 
to 2 or 3 English acres. Taking the Irish acre as equivalent 
to 2 J English acres, the 66,600 ploughlands of Ireland 
would amount in round numbers to 20,000,000 statute 
acres, which is almost exactly the area of Ireland. Dividing 
this by 185, we get 108,000 acres as the average area of 
a tuath or cantred. 


been held by certain families in severalty. 
Thus a certain portion was assigned as mensal 
land to the chief for the time being of the tribe. 
Other portions were acquired by professional 
men, or rather families, as, for instance, brehons, 
physicians, chroniclers, &c, as emoluments of 
their profession. 1 Besides these, it appears that 
in course of time chiefs of septs and other 
wealthy and powerful individuals managed to 
acquire lands which were not subject to parti- 
tion like ordinary tribe-land, but were occupied 
by the family under their head, and descended 
in the family as lands of inheritance according 
to certain rules based on the four-fold family 
organization. 2 Notwithstanding these excep- 

1 Br. Laws, vol. iii, p. 50, 1. 2. 

2 Ibid., p. 48, 1. 15. The four-fold family organization is 
known as the Gelfine system, the principal rules concerning 
which will be found in Br. Laws, vol. iii, pp. 330-4, vol. iv, 
pp. 38-42 and 282, &c. Exactly how this joint-family was 
organized is too obscure to be discussed here. It must 
suffice to say that it consisted, when complete, of seventeen 
related males, distributed into four divisions of four men 
each, with a fifth man, who seems to have been the chief, 
in the Gelfine division. These four classes succeeded to 
the acquired property, and were liable for the crimes, of 
the members according to certain rules. Moreover, for some 
purposes they seem to have represented the entire sept or 
kindred. When the number seventeen was complete, and 
a duly qualified member was born into the Gelfine division, 
the eldest of those most distantly related to the chief seems 
to have gone out of the family. The chief appears to have 
been selected from a restricted number of qualified persons 


tional cases, and, apart from church land and 
monastic land, the greater part of the land 
appears to have been regarded as belonging to 
the tribe. Much of this would be waste land of 
the tribe and commons on which the tribesmen 
could pasture their cattle, while the rest, mostly 
arable and meadow land, was divided from 
time to time among the free tribesmen. In the 
twelfth century there was probably land and 
to spare for all, but land without cattle to stock 
and work it was of no value, and accordingly 
a man was poor or wealthy, not primarily 
according to the amount of land he held, 
but in proportion to the head of cattle he 

Cattle, then, formed the principal wealth of 
the community, as indeed of all primitive com- 
munities, and the ordinary tribesman obtained 
the requisite number of cattle from his own 
chief or from some other wealthy noble. A 
considerable section of the Senchus Mor deals 
with the relationship thus constituted between 
the chief or nobles and individual tribesmen. 1 
The editor speaks of this section as the ' Law 
of Tenures ', and renders the two contracts 
mentioned as ' saer-stock and daer-stock tenure ', 
and translates the words ceile and ceilsine as 

by a rule similar to that of Tanistry, by which the tribal 
chief was selected. 
1 Br. Laws, vol. ii, pp. 194-340. 


' tenant ' and ' tenancy '. But this rendering 
is misleading, as suggesting that the relationship 
was one of landlord and tenant, and that the 
laws concern the tenure of land. Had this been 
so in the twelfth century the conflict between 
Celtic and Norman or English ideas would have 
been much less acute than it actually was. Of 
course a tribesman might hire land which be- 
longed to his chief in severalty, but his share 
in the tribe-land was his of ancient right, and 
was in no way due to his chief. No translation 
is entirely free from objection, but it would be 
less misleading to speak of the correlation as 
that of ' lord ' or ' chief ' and ' vassal ', as not 
necessarily connoting the tenure of land. A 
contract for the letting of cattle is known as 
cheptel in French law, but there seems to be no 
simple equivalent in modern English law. With 
this explanation we may call the contract 
a cattle-bailment, and for convenience speak 
of the parties to it as bailor and bailee, but as 
the contract (if such it should be called) un- 
doubtedly created, or rather regulated, a quasi - 
feudal relation, we shall in general regard it as 
a contract of vassalage and call the parties 
thereto king or chief and vassal. 

Two kinds of cattle-bailment are described, 
one called free (saerrath) and the other base or 
servile (daerrath). 

In the free contract the bailee, in return for 

1226 tt 


Free a certain number of cattle, had to render the 
value of one-third in food-rents, or rents in kind, 
every year to the bailor, 1 who would in general 
be either the tribal king or the chief of the 
bailee's sept. This amounted to interest at 
33 J per cent. If nothing was paid for three 
years, compound interest became due, 2 and the 
amount was liable to be penally increased if the 
bailee made default. 3 Besides this, the bailee 
or vassal was bound to assist the chief in erecting 
his dun, or in reaping his harvest, or by joining 
in his hostings. Homage, too, had to be paid. 
It consisted in standing up (ureirghe) before the 
sitting lord. 4 The contract lasted normally for 
seven years, and then apparently the original 
loan had to be restored. 5 A man was obliged 
to accept cattle on these terms from his own 
king, and probably from the chief of his sept, 
but from no one else. 6 If he entered into the 
contract with others he could terminate it at 
any time on restoring the stock. 7 If the chief, 
on the other hand, recalled his stock the bailee 
could elect to become a base vassal, and then 

1 Br. Laws, vol. ii, p. 194, 11. 15-16. 

2 Ibid., p. 196, 1. 7, and 198, 1. 20 et seq. 

3 Ibid., p. 198, 1. 9 ; 194, 11. 6-9, and 219, 1. 15 and comin., 
where a defaulting bailee of three cows is shown to owe no 
less than forty-two cows at the end of the seven years ! 

4 Ibid., p. 194, 11. 9-14. » i bid>) p# 204, 11. 5-11. 

6 Ibid., p. 208, 11. 1-10 ; p. 210, 11. 4-8. 

7 Ibid., p. 206, 1. 6. 


the chief would be obliged to give the additional 
stock required by that contract or forfeit the 
stock already given. 1 

Regarded as a business contract, this arrange- 
ment is so oppressive as to be in fact economically 
impossible. The arrangement, or rather custom, 
should, I think, be regarded as resulting essen- 
tially from status and not from contract. The 
king or chief had the right of being maintained 
by his principal vassals, and he gave them a 
certain amount of cattle, not as a mere business 
transaction — not as the capital out of which 
alone the vassals might be expected to make 
the food-rents due — but primarily as a mark 
of their subjection and as a measure of their 
obligations. The free vassal, if not wealthy 
enough to support his obligations, could only 
escape from them by surrendering some of his 
liberties and accepting the position of a base 

The relationship between the tribal king and his 
free vassals seems analogous to that between the 
provincial king and the tribal kings. The Book 
of Rights enumerates the stipends (tuarastla) 
given by the provincial kings to their subordinate 
kings, and the tributes and refections (cisa, 
biathaidh) paid by the subordinate kings to the 
provincial kings. In each case the stipend is 
very much less than the tribute, and there is 

1 Br. Laws, vol. ii, p. 212, 11. 1-18. 


no doubt that the acceptance of a stipend was 
a mark of submission. 1 
Base In the contract of base vassalage a certain 

number of cattle were delivered to the vassal 
proportional to the food-rents to be paid and 
the services to be performed by him (tuircreic), 
and in addition a further number of cattle 
equivalent in value to the honour-price of the 
vassal (seoit turcluide). 2 This addition was in 
effect a purchase of the honour-price of the 
vassal, who thus underwent a diminution of 
status. It was in fact this parting with his 
honour-price that constituted the base or servile 
element in his relation to his lord, for the food- 
rents to which the base vassal became liable 
were very much lighter than those of the free 
vassal, 3 while the services to be performed were 
of a similar character. 4 If the base vassal 

1 So when Malachi II 'went, into Brian's house', i.e. 
submitted to him, Brian gave him twelve score steeds, ' and 
there was not one of the twelve score men who accompanied 
Malachy who would deign to carry a led horse with him,' 
so reluctant were they to admit vassalage to Brian. To get 
out of the difficulty Malachy made a present of the horses 
to Brian's son : Wars of the Gaedhil with the Gaill, p. 132- 
Compare thev&tory of Gormlaith and the tunic which Brian 
had given to the King of Leinster as a mark of vassalage : 
ibid., p. 143. 

2 Br. Laws, vol. ii, p. 222, 1. 9, and p. 226, 1. 13. 

3 Ibid., pp. 254-60. 

4 Namely erecting the dun and harvest work, ibid., p. 256, 
1. 9 ; also joining in the chief's hostings, ibid., vol. iii, p. 494. 


were injured or killed, his chief, and not himself 
or his family, became entitled to the amount 
recoverable as honour-price. 1 His oath, too, was 
valueless, and, unlike the free vassal, he could 
not give evidence against his chief. 2 Elaborate 
rules were devised by the brehons to prevent 
the capricious termination of the contract on 
either side. When entering into the contract 
the base vassal had to give notice of its terms 
to his tribe, who might refuse to sanction an 
excessive delivery of stock, as in the event of 
the vassal absconding the tribe became liable, 
and the land or part of it might become forfeited 
to the chief. 3 This was probably one of the ways 
in which the nobles became entitled to land in 

By means of these food-rents, or rents in 
kind, the chiefs, both of the tribe and of the septs 
or families into which the tribe was divided, 
were supplied and maintained with their suites, 
and it was their custom to obtain what was Refec 
due, or part of it, on visitation to the houses lons ' 
of the vassals, both free and base — a custom 
which seems to indicate less disparity in the 
manner of living of the various classes than 
might otherwise be supposed. It is probable 
that in course of time this custom came to be 

1 Br. Laws, vol. iii, p. 334, 11. 12-15. 

2 Ibid., vol. ii, p. 344, 1. 14. 

3 Ibid., vol. ii, p. 222, 1. 16 ; pp. 228, 230, 258, 1. 10. 


regarded as the right of the chieftain quite 
independently of the delivery of cattle on 
which it was originally based, and to be looked 
upon as a rent due for the land held by the 
tribesmen as tenants. It and analogous cus- 
toms, or abuses of customs, known by various 
names, such as cuddy, coshery, bonnaght, coigny 
and livery, &c. — whether as practised by Irish 
chiefs or imitated and perhaps further abused 
by Anglo-Irish lords — though more than once 
forbidden by statute, lived on in Munster and 
in Irish districts to Elizabethan times, and were 
denounced by Sir John Davies as evil customs 
which made the lords absolute tyrants, the 
land waste, and the tenants very slaves and 
villeins. 1 

Even up to the beginning of the seventeenth 
century by far the greater part of the land 
in the Irish districts continued to be divisible 
from time to time among the tribesmen, and the 
parts that were not so divisible appear to have 
been held by joint families rather than by 
individuals — at least the succession of owners 
was regulated by what Davies calls the law 
of Tanistry. In his official capacity Davies 
investigated the state of Mac Mahon's, Maguire's, 
and O'Reilly's countries, or Monaghan, Fer- 

1 A Discovery, &c. (ed. 1787), pp. 131, 134. As to these 
exactions and others, see Harris's Ware, Antiq. (ed. 1764), 
p. 74. 


managh, and Cavan respectively. He gives the 
fullest details as to Fermanagh. There were Land 


here fifty-one and a half ballybetaghs divisible inFer- 
among the tribesmen by the custom of gavelkind S*S5S? 
and chargeable to Maguire with about 240 
beeves annually. Of lands not so chargeable 
there were (1) the church lands, which were 
considerable and found in every barony, but 
of which the extent is not given ; (2) the mensal 
lands of Maguire, amounting to four bally- 
betaghs, the occupiers of which paid food-rents ; 
(3) lands given to certain septs, such as 
Chroniclers, Rhymers, and Galloglasses, amount- 
ing to two ballybetaghs ; and (4) there was 
' a chief of every sept who had certain services, 
duties, and demesnes that ever passed to the 
tanist of that sept and never were subject to 
division V This chief was the ' canfiny or 
caput cognationis ' mentioned in the ' Resolu- 
tion of the judges touching gavelkind in 1606 ', 2 
and we can hardly doubt that he represented the 
Gelfine chief of the Brehon Law Tracts. 3 

1 Letter to the Earl of Salisbury (ed. 1787), pp. 243-58. 

2 See the Irish Custom of Gavelkind, Davies, Report of 
Cases (ed. 1762), p. 134 ; and compare the Case of Tanistry, 
ibid., p. 78. 

3 ' Canfiny ' represents the Irish ceann-fine, head of the 
fine, sept, or family, of the same lineage or surname. For 
his qualifications see Br. Laws, vol. ii, p. 278, 11. 19-25. 
In this section I think the word fine in general refers to the 
1 sept ' or ' family \ and not to the ' tribe '. 


The distinction drawn in modern law between 
crimes, or offences regarded as affecting the 
State, and torts, or private wrongs, was unknown 
to the Celtic world. All offences were regarded 
as affecting individuals alone. The great object 
of the Brehon Law was to induce those who were 
wronged to forgo the right of private vengeance, 
and to submit their claims to the arbitrament of 
the brehons. This aim, when effected, was no 
small victory over violence, but humanity had 
elsewhere already found that sterner methods 
are required than those adopted by the brehons. 
When the submission to law was made, the 
work of the brehons mainly resolved itself into 
estimating the damages or penalties to be paid 
by the wrongdoer in the particular circumstances 
of the case. This is most strikingly shown in 
The law the law of murder. There was no public 
prosecution. If the family of the victim con- 
sented to forgo their right of vengeance the 
brehon assessed the composition to be paid, 
and determined, according to certain rules, the 
persons by whom and the persons to whom the 
payments were to be made. 

The composition for murder (eric) consisted 
of (1) ' body-fine ' (coirp-dire), apparently fixed 
for all free men at seven cumals 1 or twenty-one 

1 Br. Laws, vol. iii, p. 350, 1. 4. A cumal meant originally 
a ' bondmaid ', but was used as a measure of value, equiva- 
lent (generally) to three cows. 


cows ; (2) ' honour-price ' (enech-lann or log 
enech, literally ' face-price '), varying, with the 
dignity of the victim, from one cumal for a bo- 
aire or cow-chief, the highest of the non-noble 
classes, to twenty-eight cumals for the chief king. 1 
The right of private vengeance was at one 
time not only freely admitted, but in the case 
of the family of the murdered man was recog- 
nized as a sacred duty. This was, of course, 
not peculiar to Ireland, nor to Celtic peoples. 
Probably all the branches of the Aryan family 
of races passed through this stage, as also some 
non-Aryans— for example, the Hebrews. But 
agreeably to the habit of non-interference by 
the ruling powers with the mutual relations of 
families, and the absence of any executive 
machinery, the right of private vengeance con- 
tinued to be exercised in Ireland to a late 
period, and influenced to the last the rules of 
Brehon Law for the composition of homicide. 
This is shown by the curious distinction made 
between ' necessary ' and ' unnecessary ' homi- 
cide. Necessary, or (to use a term which 
better expresses the idea) ' obligatory ' homicide 

1 Br. Laws, vol. ii, p. 226, 1. 13, and p. 224, 11. 8 and 9. 
A different scale is given in the Crith Gabhlach, ibid., vol. iv, 
and yet another in the Uraicecht Bece or Small Primer, vol. v . 

The principal passages in the Brehon Law Tracts con- 
cerning the composition for murder are, vol. iii, pp. 68, 98 
(where ' malice aforethought ' is a faulty translation, as the 
commentary shows), and 536, vol. iv, pp. 240-61. 

***** K 




was when the killing was motived by vengeance 
for the previous killing of a near relative of 
the avenger. It was classed with cases of 
accidental homicide, probably as involving no 
moral obliquity. Unnecessary or non-obligatory 
homicide was where the killing was intentional, 
but the motive was not what was regarded as 
legitimate vengeance but something else, such 
as private gain. 1 In all these cases, at the time 
the commentaries were written, a composition 
might be arranged, but a significant distinction 
was made as to the persons on whom the 
liability fell. In the case of obligatory homicide 
(to which must be added ' the four " obligatory " 
woundings which defile not the purity of the 
hand ' 2 ) this liability did not fall exclusively 
on the actual slayer, but was shared in certain 
proportions by those who were entitled to the 
honour-price of the victim for whose death 
vengeance had been taken — that is to say, by 
those on whom the duty of vengeance fell. 3 

1 Br. Laws, vol. iii, p. 68, 11. 12-14, and vol. iv, p. 248, 

I. 25. For the translation of indethbire torba, see D'Arbois 
de Jubainville, Cours de Litt., vol. vii, p. 182, and Atkinson's 
Glossary, s.v. dethhire. These scholars take the words 
differently, but agree as to the fundamental meaning of the 

2 Br. Laws, vol. iv, p. 252, 1. 17 et seq., and p. 244, 1. 20 
et seq., where cenmota = besides, not except. 

3 In addition to the above passages, see vol. iv, p. 254, 

II. 12-14. 


In the case of unnecessary or non-obligatory 
crimes the liability fell primarily on the criminal 
and on his movable property, and the family 
might either deliver up the criminal and keep 
his land or give the land for his crime. 1 This, 
indeed, affords a further distinction, for in cases 
of obligatory crimes the family had no such 
choice. The old rule in this case was ' a man 
is better than land \ 2 and this evidently meant 
that it was better to sacrifice his land than to 
give up the righteous avenger. 

The above appear to be the general principles 
which regulated the composition in cases of 
homicide. To pursue the matter further would 
lead us into a maze of doubtful detail. It is 
important, however, to note that in most cases 
of homicide motived by vengeance for a previous 
homicide, the debts incurred in consequence 
of the two homicides would cancel each other, 
or if the honour-prices of the victims were 
not equal the difference alone would require 

This ' compounding of felony ' was one of the 
principal features in the Brehon Law which 
caused it to be condemned by English Acts of 
Parliament as no law, but a bad custom, 3 and 
which led Edmund Spenser to describe it as 

1 Br. Laws, vol. iv, p. 246, 11. 23-9. 

2 Ibid., p. 246, 1. 15. 

3 Early Statutes (Berry), pp. 389, 436. 


a wild law by which many murders amongst 
the Irish were smothered up. Spenser also 
notices that the brehons for the most part 
adjudge a better share of the eric to the head 
of the sept than to the parties grieved. 1 This 
would occur in many cases, as, for instance, if 
it were for the killing of a base vassal who had 
parted with his honour-price to the chief, or 
a fuidhir, a numerous class of bondmen whose 
erics went to their lord. 2 The brehon's fee was 
ordinarily one-twelfth of the fine, but if he 
levied the fine in circumstances of difficulty he 
might take as much as two-thirds. 3 
Theposi- The position of women in Ireland presented 
women, some peculiarities. The Irish maiden was in 
her father's power until marriage, and he was 
expected to pay for her fosterage and to wed 
her to a man of equal family. 4 The contract 
of marriage was accompanied by a nuptial 
gift (coibche) from the husband, equivalent to 
half the honour-price of the bride's father, 
and this was paid, not to the wife, but to her 
father, or if the marriage took place after the 
death of her father half of it was paid to the 
chief of the sept. 6 The wife on her side brought 

1 View of the State of Ireland (1810), p. 7. 

2 Br. Laws, vol. v, p. 512, 1. 7. 

3 Ibid., vol. iii, p. 316, 1. 26 and commentary. 

4 Ibid., vol. ii, p. 346, 1. 6. 

5 Ibid., vol. v, p. 288, 1. 18. 

6 Ibid., vol. iii, p. 314, 1. 5 ; vol. iv, p. 62, 1. 9. 


a contribution (tindl) of cattle or goods, part of 
which passed to the husband and part was 
regarded as her separate property. 1 Neither as 
daughter nor as wife had she any share in the 
tribe-land, 2 but during her first marriage her 
position was one of considerable independence 
and dignity. A broad distinction must, how- The 
ever, be made between the first or chiet wile ^fe. 
(cetmuintir) and subsequent wives taken on 
repudiation of the first wife, as well as various 
temporary or irregular partners or concubines 

1 Br. Laws, vol. ii, p. 346, 1. 9, and compare p. 378, 1. 29, 
with p. 386, 1. 3. Tindl means the ' act of collecting ', and it 
was probably subscribed by the bride's father and friends. 
A similar custom survived in Westmeath up to the close 
of the seventeenth century ; see Piers' Description of 
Westmeath in Collectanea de Rebus Hib. (Valiancy), 
vol. i, p. 122. 

2 In the ancient leading case of Ciannacht, overruling 
two previous unjust (blotch-producing) decisions of Sencha 
(iv, pp. 9-17), and in the case of Seither (ibid., pp. 17-19), 
the successful plaintiffs appear to have been daughters of 
the Picts of Uladh who had intermarried with the Feini in 
the south, and who claimed lands in their native country, 
where matriarchal rules of descent still survived. So far 
as these interesting cases were tentatively used in much 
later times as precedents, they seem to have been applied 
only to land which had come to be regarded as heritable, 
or at least as separated for the time being from ordinary 
partible tribe-land (vol. iv, pp. 39-47) ; such as lands 
belonging to the gelfine when the male succession failed 
(p. 40, 1. 19, and p. 42, 1. 18), and orba cruibh no sliasta 
(' hand and thigh land ') of the mother, and unoccupied land 
(p. 44, 1. 14). 


who were not regarded as lawful wives, but 
whose rights, though far inferior to that of the 
cetmuintir, were carefully regulated by law, and 
whose offspring seem to have been under no 
disability. 1 If the wife's property was equal to 
that of her husband, and if their marriage state 
was equally free and lawful, the wife was called 
' a wife of equal rank ', and no contract, unless 
for the common benefit of the couple, was 
binding without the consent of both. 2 Husband 
and wife could separate at any time by mutual 
consent, when a fair division of the property 
and its increase should be made. For this 
division elaborate rules are given. 3 Seven 
grounds are enumerated entitling the woman to 
separate from her husband. 4 Some of these are 
not recognized in modern law, as where the 
husband circulates a false story about his wife 
or a satire until she is laughed at. The wife of 
equal rank, we may assume, would generally 
be a cetmuintir, but a cetmuintir, even without 
property and though she had no children, held 
an equally high position in the eye of the law. 
On the other hand, even a first wife, though 
she had faithfully performed her duties, was 

1 As to the various species of concubines, see vol. ii, 
p. 396, 1. 27, to p. 404, 1. 13, and Glossary, s.v. Dormaine. 

2 Br. Laws, vol. ii, p. 356, 1. 29. She was be cuitchernsa. 
apparently co-tigernasa, ' of equal lordship ' : see Glossary. 

3 Vol. ii, pp. 363-77. 4 Vol. v, p. 292, heptad 52. 


liable to be displaced by the husband intro- 
ducing into the house a new wife * to whom 
he had given a nuptial present (coibche). This 
coibche would then be forfeited to the first 
wife, and honour-price would have to be paid 
to her by the new wife and by the husband, 
and the marriage would be dissolved — unless 
indeed the first wife remained with her husband, 
when a new coibche would be due to her. 2 Indeed, 
the Brehon Law Tracts alone make it quite 
plain that repudiations by the husband were 
frequent, and temporary unions very common, 
and that both were fully recognized by the law. 3 
In all cases the contract was sealed, as it were, Tempo- 
by the coibche or nuptial gift from the man, ^nages. 
but provision was made in the law to regulate 
the payment of no fewer than twenty-one of 
these nuptial gifts in respect of the same woman 
on successive marriages. A continually decreas- 
ing portion of each gift went to the wife's 
father, if alive, or one-half of the father's share 

1 This new wife is frequently called an adaltrach or 
adulteress. We cannot call her a concubine, for her sub- 
sequent legal position, if she had sons, appears to have been 
equivalent to that of the cetmuintir (vol. ii, p. 378, 1. 16 ; 
pp. 384, 1. 17), and she was one of the four lawful wives 
(vol. v, p. 286, 11. 18-20). 

2 Vol. ii, p. 382, 1. 15 et seq., and vol. v, p. 72, 1. 17. 

3 As an example taken from the highest ranks : Gorm- 
fhlaith, sister of Maelmordha, King of Leinster, was married 
to, and repudiated by, Amlaf , King of Dublin, Malachy II, 
of Ireland, and Brian Borumha, successively. 


to the chief of the sept if the father were no 
longer living. 1 It is said in the Senchus Mor 
that Beltene (May Day) was usually the time of 
making these separations, 2 and this is enough 
to suggest a connexion with the traditions as 
to annual marriages taking place at the great 
aonachs or fairs held on Beltene, Lugnasad, and 
Samain, or May 1, August 1, and November 1 
respectively. The tradition of these marriages 
and separations was particularly vivid at Tel- 
town in County Meath, where the ancient fair 
of Tailtiu was held on the Lugnasad. 3 A 

1 Br. Laws, vol. ii, p. 346, 11. 9-13 ; vol. iii, p. 314, 1. 5 ; vol. iv, 
p. 62, 1. 9 et seq. The passage cited from vol. iv seems to 
explain the supposed contradiction noticed in the note to 
vol. iii, p. 314, and to render superfluous the explanation 
offered in the Glossary s.v. coibche. The chief had no share, 
at least in the first three nuptial gifts, if the father was 
alive ; after that he perhaps had a share, whether the 
father was alive or not, as in the discreditable case mentioned 
by way of analogy. The passage in vol. iii, p. 316, 11. 14-16, 
must mean that the shares of father or chief vest absolutely 
only if the wife is justified in separating. If she was not 
justified the whole coibche had to be repaid to the husband : 
ibid. U. 17-20, and vol. iv, p. 64, 11. 6-9. 

2 Vol. ii, p. 390, 11.18-21. The husband had to give a 
sack of provisions to the wife (under notice to quit) every 
month up to the end of the year, i. e. to the next May Day, 
when the formal separation took place. (Hence the phrase, 
1 to give the sack ' ?) Separations also took place at the 
other quarters of the year : ibid., p. 370, 11. 24-7. 

3 See Book of Rights, p. 243, note h. The custom died 
hard. Campion, writing in 1571, says : ' Yea even at this 
day, where the cleargie is fainte, they (the Irish) can be 


1 Teltown marriage ' is an expression used for 
an irregular union. In Cormac's Glossary it is 
said that a hillock at the fair of Tailtiu was called 
tulach na coibche, and this use of the technical 
law-term makes the identity of the custom as 
revealed in the Law Tracts with that preserved 
on the spot by tradition quite certain. 

The laxity of Irish marriage customs was 
repeatedly noticed by foreign ecclesiastics in 
the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Thus Ecciesi- 
Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury, writing in censures. 
1074 to Gothric, King of Dublin, says : ' It is 
reported that in your kingdom men take wives 
of their own family (parentela) or of that of their 
deceased wives, and that others at their own 
caprice and will leave their lawfully wedded 
wives, and that some give their own wives to 
others and by an infamous exchange receive the 
wives of others in return.' * At the same time 
and in the same strain he wrote to Turlough 
O'Brien, King of Ireland. 2 At the beginning of 
the twelfth century Anselm, writing to Murtough 
O'Brien, King of Ireland, says : ' We hear that 
marriages in your kingdom are dissolved with- 
out any cause and wives exchanged, and that 

content to marrie for a yeare and a day of probation, and 
at the yeares end to return her home uppon any light 
quarrels, if the gentle womans f riendes bee weake and unable 
to avenge the injury ' (Reprint, 1809, p. 23). 
1 Ussher's Sylloge, ep. 26. 2 Ibid#) ep 2 7. 

1226 j 


blood relations under colour of marriage or 
otherwise do not fear to unite openly and 
without blame, contrary to canonical prohibi- 
tion.' * The language of St. Bernard, referring 
to the year 1124 and to the north of Ireland, 
though more vague in its charges, is still more 
bitter. 2 We are thus prepared for the language 
attributed to Popes Adrian IV and Alexander III 
in the third quarter of the twelfth century. 
Making due allowance for ecclesiastical coun- 
sels of perfection in these matters, it must 
be admitted that there was much in Irish 
marriage customs which must have appeared, 
even to average foreign lay opinion, as repre- 
hensible. 3 
Fosterage. It was the custom of the chiefs and nobles of 
the Irish to send their children, especially their 
sons, to be fostered in some other family away 
from home. A section of the Senchus Mor is 
devoted to the rules as to fosterage, the fees to 

1 Ussher's Sylloge, ep. 35. In epistle 37, apparently to 
the same king, Anselm says : ' Dicitur enim quod viri ita 
libere uxores suas uxoribus aliorum commutant, sicut 
quilibet equum equo, aut quamlibet aliam rem re alia ab 
illo commutat ; aut pro libitu et sine ratio ne relinquunt.' 

2 De vita S. Malachiae, Migne, vol. clxxxii, col. 1034, 
cap. viii. 

3 Marriage by coibche was, I think, what is referred to by 
the Stat, of Kilkenny, § 2, which prohibits alliance par . . . 
concubinaunce ou de caif[e]. Early Statutes, p. 432, and 
cf . Hardiman's edition, Tracts I. A. S., vol. ii, p. 8. Caife 
might very fairly represent the sound of coibche. 


be paid according to the rank of the father, the 
duties of the foster-parent, his liability for the 
crimes of his foster-son, and so on. All writers 
speak of the warm friendship that always existed 
between the foster-son and his foster-father and 
foster-brothers, and Giraldus contrasts it with 
the enmity that often arose between natural 
brothers and blood relations. 1 Of the latter 
the Annals supply numerous examples. The 
root cause of this enmity probably explains the 
origin of fosterage. The sons of a chief, perhaps 
by different wives, were all equally eligible for 
the chieftainship. Hence mutual jealousies and 
enmities, and hence probably the necessity of 
having the sons reared in different families and 
away from home. 

This was one of the Irish customs adopted 
in after years by some of the border Anglo-Irish 
lords, with the natural result that the children 
in many cases grew up Irish in speech, in 
manners, in habits of thought, and in sym- 
pathies. It was not only to prevent them 
from ' degendring from their auncient dignities ', 
but also because the ties created by fosterage 
led to ' espials and forewarnings ' which im- 
peded the action of the government, that 
attempts were made to prohibit the English 
from fostering, as well as from intermarrying, 
with the Irish, and that the practice was 
1 v. 167. 



reprobated by Edmund Spenser and Sir John 
Davies. 1 

The Brehon Law Tracts contain a mine of 
information as to the customs of the Irish and 
the real facts of their social state, but, owing 
to a variety of uncertainties, it is a mine diffi- 
cult to work, and at times so obscure that 
we cannot be certain of having extracted the 
genuine ore of fact. We cannot pursue the 
search in this quarter any further. When we 
turn to the pages of Gerald de Barry we are 
confronted with no uncertainties of language 
or of dates, but though our author was a man 
of remarkable observation and acuteness he 
had little opportunity of observing more than 
the surface of Irish life and manners, and, 
bearing in mind his relationship with the 
invaders, we must make allowance for that 
want of sympathy which those whose heart is 
engaged in any militant cause inevitably display 
towards their opponents. As to the facts of 
the invasion, with which we shall have to deal 
in detail hereafter, he must have learnt them 
almost entirely from the invaders, and principally 
from his uncle Robert Fitz Stephen and his 
cousin Raymond le Gros. As to his description 

1 31 Ed. Ill, § 8. Early Statutes, p. 412 ; also Stat, of 
Kilkenny, ibid., p. 432; Spenser, View of the State of 
Ireland (Reprint), pp. 110-12; Davies, Discovery (1787), 
p. 135. 



of Ireland and the Irish, so far as he did not 
draw his account from personal observation, he 
must have derived it largely from the Irish 
themselves — probably from the clergy, with 
whom alone he could readily converse. Living 
in a credulous age, he was not a peculiarly 
credulous man, and most of his stories of 
a miraculous nature can be shown to have 
been believed in by the Irish themselves. like 
Herodotus, he may have been occasionally 
gulled or misled by his informants ; but, again 
like Herodotus, he seems to have faithfully 
recorded what he heard. At any rate, these 
stories which have cast an undeserved discredit 
on his work are, except to the folklorist, of no 
importance. For the rest, there is no reason to 
think that he has anywhere wilfully perverted 
the truth as he saw it. 

The following is a summary of his most Gerald de 
pertinent observations i— 1 t^ScW 

Irish children, he says, are not scientifically state of 
treated, as is usual elsewhere, but are left 
almost entirely to Nature, who, however, man- 
ages to rear them up to full strength with tall, 
handsome figures, regular features, and fresh 
complexions. But though richly endowed by 
Nature, the barbarous fashion of their beards 
and clothes and their ignorance mark their un- 
civilized state. They are slightly clad in woollen 
1 v. 150 et seq. 


clothing, mostly black, 1 the colour of their 
sheep, and arranged in barbarous fashion. 
They wear close-fitting hoods, made of patch- 
work, extending over the shoulders and down 
to the elbows* and under this a pkalanga instead 
of a mantle (pallium). They also wear woollen 
trews, or hose and breeches in one, usually 
dyed some colour. 2 For riding they use neither 
saddle nor riding-boots nor spurs, but urge on 
their horses with a crooked stick. 3 Reins serve 
as bit and bridle. In war they wear no defensive 
armour. They use a short spear, a pair of 
javelins, and a large battle-axe, well wrought 
and tempered, which they borrowed from the 
Ostmen. This they wield with one hand with 
such force that neither conical helmet nor coat 
of mail can protect the person. Hand-stones 
(lapides pugillares)* when other weapons fail, 

1 ' Black, yellowish, grey, and drab clothes for the sons 
of the Feini grades ' : Br. Laws, vol. ii, p. 148, 1. 3. 

2 The Irish folding, or cloak reaching down below the 
knees, and the trews, are well illustrated in a thirteenth- 
century copy of the Topographia Hibernica : MS. Roy. 
13, B. viii, Brit. Mus. See reproductions, Green's Short 
History (illustrated ed., 1893), pp. 901, 903 ; and the close- 
fitting hood, cochull, in MS. Harl. 1319, reproduced ibid., 
opp. p. 904. 

3 The crooked stick (echfl,esc, each-lasc = horse-rod) prob- 
ably had a goad at its curved end. See Joyce, Social 
Hist., vol. ii, p. 417. 

4 Lapides pugillares looks like a translation of the lia 
laimhe laich, or ' champion's hand-stone ', frequently 
mentioned in the ancient tales (O'Curry, Manners and 


they hurl more dexterously than any other 
nation, so as to inflict great loss on the enemy. 

The Irish, he says, are a rude people, living 
on animal produce and little advanced from 
the pastoral stage. While shunning the labour 
•of agriculture, they are not attracted by the 
refinements, and dislike the restraints, of town- 
life, and cannot shake off the bucolic ways to 
which they have hitherto been accustomed. 
They use most of their land as rough pasture, 
little is cultivated and still less sown, 1 and this 
though much of the land is naturally fertile. 
There are few fruit-bearing trees, foreign sorts 
not having been planted. Chestnut, beech, 
maple (aralus ?), and box- trees are not in- 
digenous, but yew-trees are more plentiful than 
elsewhere, and were often planted in ancient 
cemeteries. The forests abound in fir-trees, - 
Metallic veins are not turned to account, and 
gold, which is much in request, is imported 
by merchants. 3 They do not profitably employ 

Customs, vol. i, p. 263 et seq. ; Joyce, Social Hist., vol. i, 
p. 100). It seems to have been artificially prepared and 
kept ready for use in the hollow of the shield. 

1 Yet the Irish cultivated wheat, oats, barley, and rye, 
also flax and glaisin (some blue dye-plant : woad ?). 

2 Compare the list of trees in Br. Laws, vol. iv, pp. 147-8, 
with which the above account, as far as it goes, agrees. It is 
curious to note the absence of beech. Was there a pre- 
historic plague of the cryptococcus fagi ? 

3 See Joyce, Social Hist., vol. i, p. 554. Surface-washing 
for gold was probably practised by the Irish, and they may 


their time in making linen or woollen cloth, or 
any other sort of merchandise, nor in any kind 
of mechanical art. 1 Sunk in sloth, they think 
the height of luxury is to have no work to do, 
and what they most dearly prize is the enjoy- 
ment of liberty. 

Gerald praises highly the musical attainments 
of the Irish. c In this art,' he says, * they far 
surpass any people I have met.' They use and 
delight in two instruments alone : the cithara (or 
harp, Ir. crott) and the tympanum (Ir. timpan). 2 

In another place he speaks with enthusiastic 
appreciation of the illuminations in a book of 
the Gospels which he saw at Kildare. His fine 
description of it would apply to the well-known 

have attempted mining ; but there are several allusions to 
the importation of torques and gold ore in Irish literature, 
and probably some Irish gold was obtained by plunder or 
commerce from Britain and Gaul. 

1 This passage cannot mean that the Irish were ignorant 
of these arts, nor can it mean that they never practised them, 
but that the people as a whole preferred idleness to industry. 
Gerald has already indicated that they made their woollen 
clothing from their own sheep, and, as a matter of fact, 
spinning and weaving were done by the women from very 
early times: Joyce, Social Hist., c. xxvi. Irish goldsmith 
work has never been surpassed, and the Irish were proficient 
in several arts. 

2 The timpan was not a drum, but an instrument like 
a psaltery, with brass strings, and played with a plectrum. 
It is probably that represented in the illustrated MS. of the 
Topographia, and reproduced in Green's Short History 
(illustrated ed., 1893), p. 899. 


Book of Kells. ' However often and however 
closely I scrutinize it,' he concludes, ' I am 
always astounded afresh, and always find more 
and more to admire in it.' x 

In speaking of the illicit marriages of the 
Irish, Gerald uses the intemperate language 
habitual with ecclesiastics. 2 He stigmatizes the 
Irish as treacherous and keeping faith with no 
man. Then he gives us some interesting details 
as to their usages in making a solemn covenant The 
of friendship. First they enter into an alliance C0V enant, 
of gossipred, 3 then they go in procession thrice 
round a church ; afterwards they enter the 
church and before the altar, in the presence of 
the relics of the saints, with many solemn 
oaths, and after the celebration of the mass 
and the prayers of the priests, they form what 
purports to be an indissoluble alliance. Finally, 
for the better confirmation of friendship, and 
as it were for the perfecting of the business, 
each drinks the other's blood voluntarily shed 

1 v. 123-4. 

2 ' Nondum matrimonia contrahunt ; non incestus vitant ; 
. . . fratres, pluribus per Hiberniam locis, fratrum de- 
functorum uxores non dico ducunt, sed traducunt,' &c. : 
v. 164. 

3 ' Primo compaternitatis foedera jungunt.' Alliance par 
compatemitee between English and Irish was made felony 
by the Stat, of Kilkenny (1366). It is usually translated 
* gossipred ', but it was not confined to the relation consti- 
tuted at baptism. 


for the purpose. 1 This last ceremony, Gerald 
observes, was derived from the rites of their 
pagan ancestors, who used to confirm their 
treaties with blood. The statement that the 
blood covenant was used by the Irish has been 
hotly denied by Irish writers, 2 but not only 
are there references to it in early Irish literature, 3 
but according to the Annals it was practised in 
Thomond nearly a century after Gerald wrote. 4 

Gerald praises the clergy highly for their 
piety and exemplary continence. The principal 
defect he finds in them arises, he thinks, 
from their monastic training. They make good 
monks, but indifferent pastors. They were too 
fond of leading a contemplative life within the 
precincts of their churches, while neglecting the 
duty of preaching to the people and correcting 
their faults. 

There is only one other passage in the writings 
of Giraldus that need be referred to here. It 
is important as showing conclusively — what in 

1 v. 167. 

2 e. g. Keating, Hist., vol. i, p. 19. 

3 Silva Gadelica (Ir. text), p. 376, and cf. Joyce, Social 
Hist., vol. ii, p. 510. 

4 Ann. Ulster, vol. ii, p. 356, and editor's note, Ann. 
Loch Ce, 1277. Thomas de Clare treacherously killed 
Brian Roe O'Brien ' after they had poured their blood into 
the same vessel, and after they had formed gossipred, and 
after they had exchanged mutual vows by the relics, bells, 
and croziers of Munster '. Clearly the whole ceremony as 
described by Giraldus. 


any case we should be led to infer — that at 
the time of the Norman invasion the Irish, 
broadly speaking, used no castles. It also The Irish 
seems to prove, if I understand it rightly, that castles. 
the dry-stone cahers and strong earthen ring- 
forts, many of which still remain in Ireland, 
were at that time unused. After stating that 
Turgesius the Norwegian had subdued the whole 
island [early in the ninth century] and encastled 
it (incastellavit) in suitable places, he proceeds : 
4 Hence among these remains and vestiges of 
the past you will find here up to this day both 
many great entrenchments, very deep, and 
circular, and often three-fold, and also walled 
castles still entire, but vacant and deserted. 
For the Irish pay no regard to castles, but use 
the woods as their strongholds and the marshes 
as their entrenchments.' * 

This last sentence is clear enough, and agrees 
with all we know. In the whole history of the 
Norman invasion there is no allusion to the siege 
or taking of an Irish fortress. The walled towns 
of the Northmen alone offered resistance. We 

1 Gir. Camb. v. 182. I have endeavoured to translate 
the passage quite literally. The original is as follows : 
'Unde et fossata infinita, alta nimis, rotunda quoque, 
et pleraque triplicia ; castella etiam murata, et adhuc 
integra, vacua tamen et deserta, ex reliquiis illis et anti- 
quitatis vestigiis hie usque in hodiernum multa reperies. 
Hibernicus enim populus castella non curat. Silvis nam- 
que pro castris, paludibus utitur pro fossatis.' 


may disregard Gerald's theory that the en- 
trenchments and walled castles of which he 
speaks were all erected by the Norwegians. 
The latter must refer to the dry-stone cahers 
now to be seen principally in the western parts of 
Ireland, but also in other parts, as, for instance, 
the great stone fort of Aileach or Greenan Ely, 
near Deny, which was for ages the seat of the 
northern kings, but which was destroyed by 
Murtough O'Brien in 1101 and apparently never 
afterwards occupied. 1 The great circular and 
often three-fold entrenchments can, I think, only 
be the stronger examples of ring-forts which 
we generally call duns or raths, such as those 
at Tara, Emain Macha, Rathcroghan, and Dun 
Aillinn, seats of the principal kings which were 
all deserted long before Gerald wrote. 2 

1 Ann. Ulster and Four Masters, 1101. There is also in 
Leinster a well-preserved, though but little known, dry- 
stone caher, called Rathgall, three miles due east of Tullow. 
It is comparable in size to the largest of those in the west. 
I mention it in particular because it is very probable that 
Gerald's observant eye saw it, and that he had it in his 
mind when he wrote the passage quoted. It is only four 
miles from Raymond le Gros's mote-castle near Tullow, 
and Gerald can hardly have failed to visit his favourite 
cousin there. 

2 See the Prologue to the Cal. of Oengus, 165, 177, 189, 
193. This work is now ascribed by Dr. W. Stokes to about 
the year 800 (edition, Henry Bradshaw Society, 1905). 



It was in August 1167 that Dermot returned 
to Ireland from his exile. Though he did not Dermot 
wait for Strongbow or Fitz Stephen, he did okinse- 
not come quite alone. He was accompanied lagh * 
by a knight of Pembrokeshire named Richard 
Fitz Godebert (who appears to have been a 
Fleming from Roch Castle, near Haverford), 
and a small body of troops. 1 Dermot at once 
recovered his hereditary kingdom of Okinselagh, 
apparently without opposition, but he was not 
allowed to remain long unmolested. His return is 
was the signal for Rory O'Conor and Dermot's by the 
mortal enemy, Tiernan O'Rourke, with Dermot ard ' ru 
O'Melaghlin and the Ostmen of Dublin, to take 
the field against him. This was, in fact, the 
same combination that had dethroned him early 
in 1166, and they marched to the same dark 
wood, Fid-dorcha, 2 where they had previously 

1 Song of Dermot, 11. 404-19. He was probably son of 
Godebert Flandrensis of Ros. See infra, p. 392. 

2 Ann. Tigernach. According to the Four Masters, Rory 
marched to Cill Osnadh, now Kellistown, co. Carlow. This 



defeated him. Dermot, who must have seen 
that a contest was hopeless, treated for peace. 
A week was spent in negotiations, but before 
they were concluded a party of nobles stole out 
from O' Conor's camp to seek a combat, and six 
of them were killed in a conflict with Dermot' s 
horsemen. A general engagement followed, 
Dermot was put to flight ' with his Saxons ', and 
ten-score heads of Leinstermen and the heads 
of two of the foreign knights were collected by 
the victors. 1 
J 8 _? ven Notwithstanding their victory, O' Conor and 
O'Rourke, instead of once more expelling Dermot, 
came to terms with him. The ard-ri accepted 
hostages from Dermot and left him in possession 
of ten cantreds of his tribe-lands, probably about 
the whole of the present county of Wexford, 
while O'Rourke accepted 100 ounces of gold 
as his log-enech, or honour-price, for the wrong 
done him by Dermot in carrying off his wife. 
Those who think that the rape of Dervorgil had 
nothing to do with Dermot' s expulsion, inasmuch 
as it happened fourteen years before that event, 
must have overlooked this payment to the injured 

would be exactly in the direction of the fastness of ' the 
Leverocke ' (leamhrach, elm-wood ?), which we have already 
shown to be probably the Fid-dorcha : supra, p. 66. 

1 The Four Masters state that ' the son of the King of 
Britain (Rhys ?), who was the battle -prop of the island of 
Britain ', was among the slain. But for this no early 
authority is known. 


husband, a payment which was exactly in accor- 
dance with Brehon Law, and which shows beyond 
question that the original cause of the feud 
between Tiernan and Dermot had by no means 
been forgotten. 

The ard-ri has been severely blamed by 
modern writers for not crushing Dermot utterly 
when he was in his power. I do not know that 
it is the duty of an historian to mete out either 
praise or blame. His first duty with regard to 
human actions, after having carefully ascer- 
tained them and faithfully recorded them, is to 
understand them. In this case it is not difficult 
to understand Rory's action. Had he foreseen 
that Dermot would bring in more foreigners, who 
would oust many an Irish chieftain from his 
territory, he would, without doubt, have remorse- 
lessly exterminated him and his. But it is, 
perhaps happily, not given to man to see far into 
the future, and Rory, having obtained Dermot' s 
submission, having seen that due reparation 
according to law was given to O'Rourke, may 
well have thought that Dermot had received 
a sufficient lesson, and that justice was amply 
vindicated. Dermot, it must be recollected, was 
no longer the powerful king of a province, but the 
petty chieftain of a m&r-tuaih, or approximately 
the modern county of Wexford. One possible 
check on Dermot' s power Rory seems to have 
omitted. Had he set up a strong king of 


Leinster in Dermot's room and over Dermot, he 
would have erected a power whose interest it 
would have been to watch Dermot's movements 
with argus eyes, and control them with an iron 
hand. Perhaps inevitable tribe- jealousies pre- 
vented this, but in any case it had long been the 
policy of those who sought to obtain the over- 
lordship of Ireland, in order to augment their 
own power, to subdivide rather than to con- 
solidate the provincial kingdoms. Murrough 
Mac Murrough appears never to have been recog- 
nized as king of North Leinster nor of Ossory. 
Both he and, afterwards, his son Murtough were 
at most only kings of South Leinster. 
Dermot During the ensuing year 1168 it would seem 
that Dermot made no overt attempt to break 
his engagement with the ard-ri, or to reassert his 
claims to the throne of Leinster. The remnant 
of Richard Fitz Godebert's little band would 
have brought back news of their want of success 
and of Dermot's submission, and we cannot 
wonder if Strongbow and Fitz Stephen hesitated 
to carry out their engagements at the time 
stipulated. Dermot, however, had no intention 
of relinquishing his purpose, and was merely 
biding his time for a favourable opportunity of 
throwing off the mask of submission. 
Regan It was probably in the winter of 1168-9 that 

Wales? Dermot sent his trusty ' latimer ', Maurice 
Regan, to Wales, as Regan himself, through the 


pen of the Norman rhymer, informs us, 1 to 
remind Fitz Stephen and Fitz Gerald of their 
promises, and to whip up further recruits : : — 

Whoever shall wish for land or pence, 
Horses, trappings, or chargers, 
Gold or silver, I shall give them 
A very ample pay. 
Whoever may wish for soil or sod, 
Richly shall I enfeoff them. 

Urged on by some such message, Robert The 
Fitz Stephen now bestirred himself and got of Fit? 
together a force of thirty knights — ' milites,' jjgf^fe 
Gerald calls them 2 — of his own kinsmen and 
retainers, and sixty other horsemen clad in 
coats of mail (loricati), as well as about three 
hundred archers on foot, the flower of the youth 
of Wales. Having embarked his men in three 
ships, he landed at Bannow Bay on the south 
coast of Wexford about May 1, 1169. Such was 
the small beginning of a movement of peoples 
destined in a brief period to have big results 
for Ireland. Among his principal followers were 
his nephews Meiler Fitz Henry and Miles, son 
of the Bishop of St. Davids, whom we have 
already mentioned, and Robert de Barry, elder 
brother of the historian. With the expedition, 

1 Song of Dermot, 11. 420-38. 

2 The milites were not necessarily dubbed knights, but 
were fully equipped men-at-arms, such as tenants in capite 
were bound by the conditions of their tenure to furnish to 
the Crown. 

1226 v 


which was evidently dispatched with Strong- 
bow's knowledge and approval, was sent Hervey 
de Montmorency, Strongbow's paternal uncle, 
to investigate the position of affairs on the spot 
and report to Strongbow. 
Descrip- Gerald de Barry, who misses no opportunity 

tion of 

Hervey, of placing Hervey s character and actions in an 
unfavourable light, describes him here as a man 
of fallen fortunes, without military equipment or 
pecuniary resources, who came over as a spy on 
behalf of his nephew rather than as a soldier. 
At a later period he gives the following sketch of 
his personal appearance and moral character : 
1 Hervey was a tall, handsome man, with 
prominent grey eyes, pleasing presence, comely 
countenance, and polished address. . . . But in 
proportion as Nature had endowed his outward 
appearance wich many graces, so she had 
deformed the inner man with the stains of 
many vices. From youth upwards he had 
abandoned himself to all kinds of venery. . . . 
He was a malicious, double-faced informer, a 
cunning, smooth-tongued rogue, and his honeyed 
words were fraught with venom. Shallow and 
shifty, he was constant only in inconstancy ' 1 — 
with more to the same effect. Hervey, it is 
evident, was not a Geraldine ; nay, more — as 
a military commander he was the principal 
rival of Raymond, the pattern and paragon of 
1 Gir. Camb. v. 327. 


Geraldine perfection. How Hervey was Strong- 
bow's uncle, as stated by Gerald, was long un- 
known, but it has recently been shown * that 
Adeliz de Clermont, Strongbow's paternal grand- 
mother, married a de Montmorency as her 
second husband, and bore to him Hervey, who 
accordingly was half-brother to Strongbow's 

Gerald, indeed, gives us personal descriptions 
of all the protagonists in the drama of the 
conquest, and making due allowance for his bias 
in favour of his relatives, and for his evident 
prejudice in the cases of Strongbow and Hervey, 
we can form from his descriptions some idea of 
their appearances and main characteristics. He 
says of his uncle, Robert Fitz Stephen, that he Of Fitz 
was a burly, healthy-looking man, somewhat ' p ( 
above middle height, and with a comely coun- 
tenance. A good liver, open-handed, generous, 
and jovial, but too much given to wine and 
women. A man of singular courage and energy, 
but, like a second Marius, the sport of fickle 
Fortune, now and again prosperous, but more 
often weighed down by adversity. He describes 
his cousin, Meiler Fitz Henry, as a swarthy man And of 
with stern black eyes and piercing look. Below 

1 By Mr. Round, Feudal England, p. 519. The im- 
possibility- of the previously received pedigree, and the error 
on which it was founded, had already been indicated in 
a note to the Song, p. 266. 



The com- 
ing of 
de Pren- 

the middle height, but very strong for his size. 
His chest was broad his waist narrow, his limbs 
bony and sinewy. A courageous and eager 
soldier, who shrank from no enterprise, whether 
to be undertaken alone or in company with 
others. The first to plunge into battle and the 
last to leave the field, he knew no alternative 
but death or victory. 

This little band of warriors was joined next 
day by Maurice de Prendergast, who came from 
the district of Rhos in Pembrokeshire, where the 
name Prendergast survives as that of a suburb 
of Haverford. In all probability he was one of 
the principal Flemish settlers there. He brought 
with him ten men-at-arms and a considerable 
body of archers in two ships. These men, who 
remained apart under Maurice's command, and, 
as we shall see, mostly followed his fortunes, 
were also probably Flemings by descent. Pro- 
bably, too, Fitz Stephen brought with him some 
of the Flemings who had fought by his side in 
Wales. The Four Masters, indeed, speak of the 
whole band as ' the fleet of the Flemings '. The 
leaders, however, other than Maurice de Prender- 
gast, were Normans, though they had the blood 
of Welsh princes in their veins. Fitz Stephen's 
archers were selected from ' the youth of Wales ', 
but though the names of many of the early 
settlers in Ireland can be traced to South Wales, 
and especially to Pembrokeshire, there is not 


much positive evidence that many men of pure 
Welsh descent settled at this time in Ireland. 
The names are, for the most part, apparently 
Norman or English, with only an occasional 
Welsh name, but with, in Wexford especially, 
a fair sprinkling of what seem to be Flemish 
names. Names, however, are not always con- 
clusive of origin. 1 Surnames taken from place- 
names in South Wales may not all have belonged 
to Normans. Thus the descendants of Godebert 
the Fleming took the name of de la Roche from 
the rock-castle near Haverford. 

This little army of invaders, probably not ex- The land- 
ceeding 600 men in all, landed on what was then p 
an island in Bannow Bay, on the southern coast 
of the present County Wexford. As the walled 
towns of Waterford and Wexford were held by 
Norsemen independently of Dermot, they could 
not land in either of the harbours connected with 
those towns, and if the map of Wexford be 
studied, or, better still, if the coast-line itself be 
examined, it will be found difficult to discover a 
more favourable landing-place for vessels of light 
draught. 2 They drew up their ships on the sandy 

1 Even the ' to-name ' le Waleis (afterwards Walsh) does 
not necessarily imply pure Welsh blood. Raymond le Gros 
had a nephew David agnomine Walensis non cognomine, 
natione Kambrensis non cognatione : Gir. Camb. v. 321. 

2 The bay no longer affords good anchorage even for 
shallow vessels. It is nearly drained at low water, and there 
is a dangerous bar. But that this was not always so is 


beach, and sent messengers at once to Dermot to 
apprise him of their arrival, and he immediately 
sent forward his illegitimate son, Donnell Ka- 
vanagh, to welcome them. The island of Bannow 
is now joined to the mainland on the eastern side 
by a narrow neck of sand washed up by the sea. 
At one time there was evidently a channel here. 
The island, however, is low and unprotected by 
cliffs, so that it was not a strong place or one 
that could well be held in the face of a hostile 
country. Fortunately, however, for the in- 
vaders, the adjoining country was not hostile. 
The people of the district, Gerald tells us, had 
formerly deserted Dermot in his misfortune, 
but now that his luck had turned they flocked 
together to support him. 1 In any case, Dermot 
lost no time in joining them with 500 men, 
and on the following day the combined troops 
marched to attack the Scandinavian stronghold 
of Wexford, distant about sixteen English miles. 
Wexford Wexford, known to the Irish as Loch Garman, 
objective, owed its importance and probably its origin to 
the Ostmen, as they were called, whether Danes 

indicated by the once prosperous towns of Bannow and 
Clonmines situated on its shores. See paper by the Rev. 
James Graves, Kilk. Arch. Soc, 1850, p. 187. 

1 The chieftains of the adjoining districts, the modern 
baronies of Forth and Bargy, were O'Lorcain and O'Duibh- 
ginn : Topog. Poems, p. 93, note (468, 470). Both of them 
are mentioned in the Song as being at a later period on 
Strongbow's side : 11. 3214, 3217. 


or Norwegians, and had been held by them for 
about three hundred years. It was a walled 
town, and though the Irish had several times 
inflicted an overthrow on the foreigners of Loch 
Garman, they were quite incapable of taking 
the town by storm. The extensive harbour, 
almost enclosed by Rosslare Point and the 
Raven, afforded ample shelter for the Danish 
vessels, which carried on a trade with South 
Wales and Bristol only inferior to that of 
Dublin and Waterford. As long as the sea com- 
munication remained open the town could not 
be reduced by siege, even supposing the Irish 
were capable of conducting lengthy siege opera- 
tions. Dermot, however, claimed to be overlord 
of the ' Foreigners of Wexford ', and in 1161 
Donnell Kavanagh gained a victory over them. 
Whatever the result of this may have been, the 
Ostmen, we may be sure, were among the first 
to throw off their allegiance when Dermot was 
in difficulties. Apart, however, from any claim 
of right by Dermot, Fitz Stephen, as a prudent 
general, could not leave so important a post in 
hostile hands in his rear. Accordingly Wexford 
was the first objective of the invaders. What 
sort of stronghold it was we have scanty means 
of judging. Like Dublin and Waterford, it was 
a walled town running down to the water's edge. 
These walls included towers or turrets (pro- 
pugnacula) at intervals, and were defended on 


the outside by a ditch, beyond which there was 
rising ground. So much we can glean from 
Gerald's narrative. Probably the later walls, 
which still exist in places and can be traced all 
round on the land side, follow in part the lines 
of the old walls, though embracing a larger area 
towards the north. We do not hear of any castle 
or citadel in the town. 

When the townsmen heard of Dermot's ap- 
proach they boldly sallied forth to the number 
of two thousand, confident in the issue of a 
battle with their old foe ; but they soon per- 
ceived that it was a new sort of enemy they had 
to deal with. Instead of a horde of naked Irish 
kerns armed with pikes and darts, with perhaps 
a body of galloglasses, as they were afterwards 
termed, wielding in one hand the broad battle- 
axe borrowed from the Danes themselves, they 
saw before them an orderly body of men drawn 
up in even ranks, armed with the bow which 
carried death at a distance, and flanked on either 
side by a squadron of horsemen, with long lances, 
glittering kite-shaped shields, and helmets and 
coats of mail. The Ostmen of Wexford were 
no doubt not wholly unused to armour. Their 
compatriots at Clontarf, a century and a half 
before, are said to have been encased in mail, 1 

1 The accounts of the battle of Clontarf all mention 
the lurech ( = lorica) on the Danes, but it was probably 
of leather reinforced with metal rings and studs. 


but in the interval they had given up their old 
piratical life, and had become Christians and 
traders. They had certainly now no such armour 
as they saw on the Norman chivalry before them, 
nor were they archers or horsemen. Accordingly, 
in these changed circumstances, they changed 
their tactics, and after firing the suburbs, so as 
to deprive the enemy of shelter, they retired 
within the ramparts. 

Fitz Stephen at once made his preparations The 
for the attack. On the rising ground behind the 
town he placed his archers so as to command 
the turrets on the walls. 1 Under the shelter of 
their arrows, the men in mail proceeded to fill 
up in places the ditch which surrounded the 
walls on the outside. 2 Over the places thus 
levelled a rush was made to scale the walls with 
ladders or some extemporized substitute. The 
townsmen, however, stood to the defence, and, 
hurling great beams and stones from the battle- 
ments on the heads of the assailants, for the 
time repulsed the assault. According to the 
Song, eighteen of the English were killed, 
while the townsfolk lost but three. Gerald 

1 The existing walls run some way up the hill behind 
the town, but the ground still rises beyond them. 

2 ' Viris armatis fossata replentibus ' : Gir. Camb. v. 232. 
This phrase has, I think, been mistranslated 'lining the 
ditches with those of his troops who wore armour ' (Giles). 
1 The men in mail lined the ditches ' (Barnard). For the 
operation as above rendered cf . Caesar, De Bello Gallico, vii. 82. 


mentions that his elder brother, Robert de 
Barry, as he led the escalade, was struck on the 
helmet by a stone, and, falling headlong to the 
bottom of the ditch, was with difficulty rescued 
by his comrades. Withdrawing then from the 
walls, the assailants rushed to the neighbouring 
strand and set fire to all the ships they could 
lay their hands on. One band of youths 
boarded a merchant vessel from England, laden 
with corn and wine, when the sailors cut the 
hawser, and the vessel, driven by the west wind, 
stood out towards the sea, so that the boarding- 
party were barely able to escape by taking again 
to their boats and rowing to land. Night closed 
in without the invaders obtaining any real 
Wexford Next morning, after mass was solemnized in 
full parade, Fitz Stephen proceeded to renew the 
attack, but this time with more circumspection 
than before. Despairing of taking the walls by 
a mere rush, he was preparing to adopt some of 
the devices of that military science for which 
the Normans were famous, when the besieged, 
abandoning all hope of defending their town, 
sent envoys to treat for peace. Mainly by the 
mediation of two bishops, terms were arranged. 
The townsmen submitted to Dermot, and gave 
him four hostages for their future fidelity. No 
violence was done, but the town was henceforth 
held by the victors. Pleased with his first 

on terms. 


success, and by way of encouraging his allies, The first 
Dermot is said to have at once redeemed his gra 
promise to Fitz Stephen, and assigned to him 
and his half-brother, Maurice Fitz Gerald (who 
had not yet arrived) the town of Wexford 
with all its dependent territory. To Hervey de 
Montmorency he gave two cantreds adjoining 
the sea between Wexford and Waterford. 1 This 
latter gift would seem to indicate that Hervey, 
perhaps as representing Strongbow, was a much 
more important personage in Dermot' s eyes 
than one would gather from the pages of Gerald. 
These lands, which probably included the present 
baronies of Bargy and Shelburne, were after- 
wards re-granted or confirmed to Hervey by 
Strongbow. 2 

After the taking of Wexford, Dermot brought First ex- 
his allies with him to Ferns, where they stayed ^ a i n l s °t n 
for three weeks to heal their wounded and to 0ssor y- 
refresh themselves. Then Dermot proposed an 
expedition against the King of Ossory, 3 to which 

1 Gir. Camb. v. 233. According to the Song of Dermot, 
the delivery of Wexford to Fitz Stephen, and the grant 
of the adjoining land at Carrick to Maurice Fitz Gerald, took 
place at a later period, after the earlier raids and just 
before Raymond's landing ; and this appears more probable : 
11. 1392-9. Henry afterwards took Wexford into his own 
hands, but ultimately gave it to Strongbow (Song of Dermot, 
1. 2902), so that it merged in the lordship of Leinster. 

2 Song of Dermot, 11. 3070-1, and see note. 

3 The principal authority for this Ossorian expedition is 
Song of Dermot, 11. 520-823. Giraldus, v. 233-6, includes 


his allies, ready for any fighting, agreed. The 
kingdom, as it was usually called, of Ossory 
corresponded to the present diocese of that 
name, and included, besides the entire county of 
Kilkenny, three baronies in the western part of 
Queen's County. It thus extended from the 
Slieve Bloom mountains to the meeting of the 
three rivers near Waterford, and was separated 
from Okinselagh by the lower reaches of the 
river Barrow. This large district was some- 
times reckoned as part of Munster and sometimes 
as part of Leinster, but was perhaps more often 
practically independent of both. Dermot, how- 
ever, claimed its submission. In 1152 Ossory 
may have furnished him with troops in the 
fateful expedition against Tiernan O'Rourke, 1 
but subsequently he met with more than one 
reverse at its hands, and it was no doubt due to 
the defection of Ossory along with that of other 
subordinate chieftainries that Dermot was un- 
able to make any stand against his enemies in 
1166. In that year, as we have seen, the King 
of Ossory had shared in the partition of Der- 
mot' s principality of Okinselagh, and had taken 
prisoner Dermot's son, Enna, who had probably 
been left behind as Dermot's representative. 

both this expedition, and one to be presently described, 
under the same heading, de expugnatione Ossiriae; cf. Ann. 
Tigernach, 1169. 
1 Song of Dermot, 1. 75. 


In 1168 Donough Mac Gillapatrick had deliber- 
ately blinded Enna, styled by the annalists 
' rigdamna of Leinster \ to dispose of his claims. 
Dermot had therefore special grounds for his 
animosity against the King of Ossory, who, 
however, at this time appears to have been 
Donnell, son of Donough Mac Gillapatrick. 1 

After the success at Wexford, many of the 
men of Leinster returned to their allegiance, 
and Dermot's troops were reinforced partly by 
them and partly by a body of the Ostmen of 
Wexford, until he had 3,000 fighting men under 
his command. It is probable that the army 
entered Ossory by the well-known route called 
the Bealach Gabhrdin, or Pass of Gowran, and 
that it was somewhere along this route that 
Donnell Mac Gillapatrick attempted to stop him. 
It is quite certain that large districts in Leinster 
and in other parts of Ireland were at this time, 
and for centuries afterwards, covered with natural 
forests quite impassable for cavalry, or indeed, 

1 Gerald calls him Duvenaldus, which represents Domhnall 
(Donnell), not Donnchadh (Donough), while in the Song of 
Dermot he is called Macdonchid (variously spelled), i.e. 
Mac Donnchadha, or son of Donnough ; cf . note, 1. 560. 
Perhaps this Donough died in the winter of 1168-9, and 
was succeeded in half Ossory by his son Donnell. The 
Ossorian succession at this period is, however, rather 
obscure ; partly because there were three contemporaneous 
kings in Ossory, and two of them were of the family of 
Mac Gillapatrick and were each named Donnell. 


with safety, for any troops. Through these 
forests narrow tracks were cut to the open places 
or plains where the cattle fed, and such agricul- 
ture as was in vogue was carried on. The upper 
slopes of the hills were also generally bare, and 
thither the cattle used to be driven in summer 
to feed. When we read of a « pass ' it is often 
one of these tracks through the forests that is 
meant, and not a defile between mountains. It 
was in some such forest-track that Mac Gilla- 
patrick of Ossory now endeavoured to arrest 
Der mot's predatory expedition. He defended it 
in the usual way, but with more than the usual 
care and completeness. He caused a barricade 
to be made consisting of a triple fosse and vallum, 
and on the top of each vallum he erected a 
sort of stockade of intertwined branches (haie). 
Behind this barricade he sat down with five 
thousand men awaiting the enemy. Here the 
battle lasted from morning until eventide, until 
at last the English, though with considerable 
loss, forced their way through. They now 
advanced into the plain and laid waste the 
country, collecting what spoil they could. They 
did not penetrate very far, however, but took 
a northerly direction, and then endeavoured 
to return to their own country, apparently by 
the shorter but more difficult route through the 
fdsach or wilderness of the Dinin and across the 
Slievemargy hills to the valley of the Barrow. 


On this march they very nearly met with a 
disaster. Mac Gillapatrick had rallied his men, 
and was hanging about the rear of the retreating 
army as it was about to enter a pass where 
Dermot had on three occasions met with a defeat. 
The Irish troops, who were under the command 
of Donnell Kavanagh, fearing lest they should 
be defeated for the fourth time, fled in a panic 
through the woods, leaving only forty-three men 
with their commander. The little body of 
Normans were now in a tight place, as their 
horse could not operate amid the woods and 
swamps of the pass. Accordingly Maurice de 
Prendergast, who was in command, urged his 
men forward as rapidly as possible, so as to gain 
the hard open country on the upper slopes of the 
hills, where the cavalry could act. At the same 
time he set a little ambuscade of fifty archers in 
a thicket at the side of the pass to take the 
enemy in the rear. Meanwhile the men of 
Ossory, to the number of two thousand, were 
impetuously pursuing the retreating invaders 
until the hard open ground was reached, when 
the latter turned, and, charging their pursuers, 
speared them with their long lances and scattered 
them in utter rout. Dermot' s men, who had fled 
to the woods earlier in the day, now returned 
and joined in the melee, cutting off with their 
broad axes the heads of those who were thrown 
to the ground by the charge of the horse. Thus 


what seemed at first like the flight of the in^ 
vaders was turned into the defeat of the pursuers, 
and to Dermot as he rested by the Barrow were 
brought some two hundred of the heads of his 
enemies. Here Gerald gives us a horrible picture 
of the savagery of the times, or at least of the 
brutality of Dermot. ' To see to whom the 
heads belonged he turned them over one by one ; 
then thrice did he clap his hands and leap for 
joy, and, giving thanks to the Most High, burst 
into exultant song. Aye, and even the head of 
one whom he hated above the rest, he took up 
by the ears and hair, and in a most blood- 
thirsty and brutal manner tore away with his 
teeth the lips and nose.' x 

1 This action of Dermot may perhaps indicate the late 
survival in Ireland of a once widespread superstition noticed 
by Dr. J. G. Fraser (Psyche's Task, pp. 56-8), viz. that 
one way of allaying the avenging ghost of a murdered man 
was to taste the blood of the slain, and so, by making him 
part of oneself, and establishing in the strictest sense 
a blood-covenant with him, one could convert him from an 
enemy into an ally. He refers inter alia to a ' still wide- 
spread opinion in Calabria that if a murderer is to escape 
he must suck his victim's blood from the reeking blade 
of the dagger with which he did the deed '. An historic 
example from Italy, which at any rate offers analogies to 
Dermot's action, occurred at the massacre of the Baglioni 
in Perugia in 1500, when ' one of the noble murderers tore 
from a great wound in his (the victim's) side the still quiver- 
ing heart, into which he drove his teeth with savage fury \ 
(See the contemporary chronicle of Matarazzo, quoted in 
The Story of Perugia, Mediaeval Town Series, p. 65). The 


Overruling the bolder proposal made by Fitz 
Stephen, that they should remain where they 
were for the night and on the morrow continue 
the contest with the King of Ossory, Dermot 
marched his men along by the Barrow to Old 
Leighlin, situated on a hill two miles west 
of the river, where they spent the night, and 
where the leaders were possibly entertained in 
the monastery of St. Laserian. Next day they 
returned to Ferns for another brief period of rest. 

Such was the dread inspired by Dermot' s 
auxiliaries, the fame of whose exploits now 
began to be noised abroad, that many disaffected 
tribes of Leinster returned to their allegiance ; 
but there were important chieftains in North 
Leinster, always jealous of Okinselagh, who still 
held out. Among these was Faelan Mac Fhaelain 
or Mackelan (as the name was anglicized), lord 
of Offelan, the tribal territory of the O' Byrnes, Expedi- 
who at this time occupied the north-eastern part offelan. 
of the present County Kildare, including Naas. 
Mackelan came of a family which, in centuries 
gone by, had given more than one king to 
Leinster, and a member of this family had, as 

fear of the avenging spirit was not confined to the case of 
murder, but was felt even when the victim was slain in 
battle, as in Dermot 's case. Probably the common custom 
of decapitating the slain arose from a similar belief. For 
the usage of the blood -covenant in Ireland at this time 
and even later, see Giraldus, v. 167, Ann. Ulster, 1275, and 
editor's note, vol. ii, p. 356, and supra, p. 137. 

1226 L 



we have seen, been set up as king by Turlough 
O'Conor in 1127, and had eventually been slain 
by Dermot. Naturally, the present chief bore 
Dermot no goodwill, and had been one of the 
first to turn against him. So now Dermot, with 
the aid of his Norman allies, drove him out of 
Offelan, raided his territory, and carried off 
And a great spoil. 1 The next to suffer was O'Toole, 
OTooL ^ ne chieftain of Omurethy, a district comprising 
the southern half of the present County Kildare. 
This chieftain was brother of Lore an or Laurence 
O'Toole, Archbishop of Dublin, and brother-in- 
law of Dermot himself ; but family ties are 
seldom allowed to stand in the way of the 
ambition of monarchs, and Dermot proceeded 
to spoil the district of Glendalough, 2 which 
must even thus early have been subject to 

The Irish, though brave and inured to fighting, 
could not stand against the far-reaching arrows, 
the long lances, and the military skill of the 
Normans. Many of them, however, preferred 
to see their homesteads burned, their lands laid 
waste, and their cattle spoiled, rather than give 
in their submission to Dermot. The King of 
Ossory, for example, still held out, and a fresh 
expedition 3 was accordingly organized into his 
territory on a larger scale than before. Donnell 

1 Song of Dermot, 11. 846-75. 

2 Ibid., 11. 884-917, and notes. 3 Ibid., 11. 920-1055. 


Kavanagh had now five thousand men under Second 
his command, and then there was the contingent tSninto 
of Ostmen from Wexford, who, we are told, 0ssor y- 
hated Dermot and fought under compulsion, and 
were consequently viewed with suspicion, besides 
the foreign contingent, with whom Dermot 
himself always marched, perhaps for greater 
safety. From the indications given in the Song 
of Dermot, we can gather the route they took 
with some particularity. They marched into 
the district of the Fotharta Fea, now known 
as the barony of Forth, in County Carlow, 
having, no doubt, passed the mountains by the 
cutting through which the Slaney flows, and 
they encamped for the night by the river 
Burren, 1 some of them occupying an old disused 
fort, 2 in which circumstance we may perhaps 
discover the cause of the curious event that 
followed. Our two Norman authorities tell 
how the camp was aroused in the night by a 
phantom army and put to panic flight. ' Sud- 
denly,' says Gerald, ' as it were countless thou- 
sands of warriors burst in upon them on all 
sides, seeming to overwhelm everything in their 
furious charge, while the rattling of their armour, 

1 Sur Vewe de Macburtin (Song of Dermot, 11. 957-68) 
where Macburtin probably represents Mag Boirenn, or the 
plain of the Burren. 

2 Probably ' le langport ' (Ir. longphort = encampment or 
fort) of the Song of Dermot, 1. 1000, is the castdlarium 
quoddam antiquum of Gerald. 



the mighty crash of their battle-axes, and their 
fearful shouts rilled the air.' The Normans 
thought that they were being treacherously 
attacked by the men of Wexford, who in their 
turn thought that they were being entrapped 
by Dermot, while in reality no one was hurt 
except those who were in the confusion knocked 
on the head by their panic-stricken comrades. 
Knowing the belief that Irish peasants in the 
more backward parts have to this day in fairy 
hosts, and how they associate them and their 
hostings with the old forts or raths that dot 
the land, we may shrewdly suspect that some of 
Dermot' s followers, imbued with the same super- 
stitious beliefs, saw the fairy hosts issue from 
the old rath in which the army slept, and that 
from them the panic spread to the rest of the 

Next morning they pursued their march, and 
advanced into Ossory until they came to ' a 
river of great vehemence ', presumably the 
Nore, where they encamped for the night. 
Mac Gillapatrick did not dispute with them the 
passage of the Nore, but fortified the pass of 
Achadh-ur against them. Achadh-ur was the 
ancient name of the little town now called 
Preshf ord, on the river Nuenna, about three miles 
above its junction with the Nore. It was a 
place of some importance, as is testified by the 
beautiful romanesque doorway of the existing 


church — a doorway which was probably erected 
early in the century of which we write. As one 
approaches this town from the side of Kilkenny 
and the Nore, the hills to the south come close 
to the road, and leave a comparatively narrow 
passage between them and the Nuenna. This 
spot may have been that chosen by Mac Gilla- 
patrick to meet the invader. He trenched the 
pass in the usual manner, with a hedge of stakes 
and intertwined branches on the top of his 
earthen rampart. This post he bravely held 
against the attack of the Wexford men, but he 
could not withstand the terrible shafts that 
sped from the Norman bows, nor the onset 
of the mail-clad spearmen. He preferred 
flight, however, to submission, and was vainly 
pursued by Dermot to the borders of his 
country. Then Dermot returned to Ferns with 
a great spoil. 

And now occurred the first division in the 
ranks of the invaders. 1 For some reason, at Prender- 
which we can only vaguely guess, Maurice de E^ 
Prendergast and about two hundred men, per- De^ot. 
haps in the main the Flemings he had brought 
with him, wished to return to Wales. The char- 
acter of this man as it appears in the Song is 
that of a chivalrous warrior who would keep his 
word even with an enemy, and he may have 
been disgusted with Dermot' s brutality. Gerald, 
1 Song of Dermot, 11. 1056-1151. 


however, after telling of his arrival in Ireland, 
never mentions his name, but when Rory's 
great hosting into Okinselagh (to be mentioned 
immediately) was threatened he says that many 
of Dermot's friends deserted him, some even 
going openly over to the enemy, 1 and it may 
well be that this was the occasion of Prender- 
gast's defection. Perhaps on seeing the opposi- 
tion that had arisen against them throughout 
the greater part of Ireland, Prendergast and 
his men may have despaired of ultimate success 
and may have resolved to return to Wales. In 
any case, he parted in bad terms with Dermot, 
and drawing off two hundred of his men — about 
one-third of the foreign contingent — set out 
for Wexford. Dermot at once sent a message 
to the ship-captains of Wexford charging them 
to give no assistance to Prendergast, but to 
obstruct his design in every way they could. 
And joins Prendergast, baulked in this way, immediately 
Patrick, sent word to Donnell Mac Gillapatrick, Dermot's 
great enemy, to offer him his services. That 
chieftain gladly accepted the offer, assured 
him of safe-conduct, and promised him ample 
reward. Accordingly Prendergast, turning aside 
from Wexford, took the road to St. Mullins, 
on the Barrow, in the present county of Carlow. 
This did not suit Dermot at all, and his son 
Donnell Kavanagh, with five hundred men, 
1 v. 237. 


endeavoured to bar his way. A battle was 
fought, evidently in the pass of Pollmounty, 
a narrow defile between the hills on the direct 
route to St. Mullins, and Prendergast forced 
his way through. St. Mullins was an ancient 
ecclesiastical centre, and the remains of a round 
tower, a carved cross, and numerous churches 
may still be seen there. Here after three days, 
Donnell, King of Ossory, arrived with a company 
of troops, and on the altar and shrine of 
St. Moling took oath never to betray Maurice 
de Prendergast or his men. The King of 
Ossory was now able to take the offensive 
against Dermot, and with the aid of Maurice, 
who in consequence of his new service re- 
ceived the name of ' Maurice of Ossory ', 
harried Dermot' s territory. Dermot, it will 
be noted, was not the only Irish king who was 
ready to employ foreigners to fight his battles 
for him. 

It was probably about this time that Rory Hosting 
0' Conor, attended by Tiernan O'Rourke, Dermot o'Conor 
O'Melaghlin, and the Ostmen of Dublin (again QkLse- 
the same combination as before), led a host- la s h - 
ing into Okinselagh. According to the Four 
Masters, this vast array ' deemed the Flemings ', 
as the followers of Fitz Stephen are called, 
1 not worth notice ' — so incorrectly did they 
calculate the forces of the future. O'Conor 
simply exacted Dermot' s son as a hostage and 


retired. 1 A different complexion is given to 
the hosting by Gerald de Barry, who also 
supplies some new details. 2 According to him, 
the ard-ri, alarmed at Dermot's successes and 
apprehensive of evil from the introduction of 
foreigners, came with his vast host to crush 
Dermot and exterminate the foreigners while 
they were as yet few in numbers. Dermot at 
this crisis found himself deserted by his fair- 
weather friends, some of whom secretly dis- 
appeared while others openly joined the foe. 
Among the latter, as we have seen, must 
probably be included Maurice de Prendergast 
and his Flemings. Thus in his hour of need 
Dermot found himself with very few firm 
supporters, besides Fitz Stephen and his men. 
He therefore retired with those who remained 
faithful to him ! to a place not far from Ferns 
which, surrounded as it was by dense woods, 
steep mountains, and watery marshes, formed 
a natural fastness very difficult of access '. 
From this description we can locate the site of 
Dermot's retreat with much confidence some- 
where near Mount Leinster to the west of Ferns, 
in the district still known as the Duffry. 
This district, situated in the parish of Temple- 
shanbo, remained for centuries one of the most 

1 Four Masters, Ann. Tigernach, 1169. 

2 Gir. Camb. v. 236-44. The Song of Dermot does not 
mention this hosting. 


inaccessible fastnesses of Leinster. As its name, 
the Dubh-tir, c black or dark country,' indicates, 
it was covered with dark woods. It is bounded 
on the west and north by the steep sides of 
Mount Leinster and its adjacent spurs (the 
praerupti montes of Gerald), it is coursed by 
numerous mountain streams, while in the low- 
lands to the east the remains of bogs and 
marshes may still be discerned. Here they 
felled trees and plashed the woods in the 
method well known to the Irish ; they broke 
up the surface of the level ground with deep 
pits and trenches, leaving only narrow and 
tortuous entrances and exits, through which 
they could easily pass, but in which the enemy 
would be hopelessly entangled. Having thus 
strengthened a naturally strong position, they 
awaited with great resolution the advance of 
the army of Ireland. 

Rory, on his arrival, at first sent to Fitz 
Stephen messengers, who endeavoured by the 
proffer and promise of valuable gifts, and by 
every argument, to persuade him to return in 
peace and amity to his own country. Failing 
with him, the messengers then urged Dermot to 
unite w T ith the men of Ireland in exterminating 
the foreigners, promising in that event the 
peaceable restoration of all Leinster to Dermot, 
together with the firm friendship of the ard-ri. 
But Dermot, to his credit be it said, would not 


agree to this treachery. It would seem as if 
there was nothing for it but to fight, and Gerald 
puts long speeches into the mouths of Rory 
O' Conor, Dermot, and Fitz Stephen, all, as it 
were, animating their respective followers for 
the approaching battle. But we may pass over 
these speeches, all the more as there was no 
fighting. Perhaps on learning how few the 
foreigners were Rory may have thought their 
presence a matter of no importance, as seems 
to be the statement of the Irish annals ; per- 
haps he may have shrunk from attacking them 
in their present strong position, as Gerald 
says. Indeed, the two motives are not abso- 
lutely inconsistent with each other, and Rory 
may have been actuated partly by the one 
and partly by the other. In either case we may 
accept the statement of Gerald that through the 
intervention of good men (meaning thereby the 
clergy, who seem always to have supported 
Dermot) and by the grace of Heaven, peace was 
at length established upon the following con- 
ditions : that Leinster should be left to Dermot, 
who should acknowledge Rory as ard-ri and 
yield him due submission. To secure this 
compact Dermot handed over his son Conor as 
a hostage to Rory, who on his part promised 
that if Dermot fulfilled his engagements he would 
give his daughter in marriage to Dermot' s son. 
Besides these conditions, which were publicly 


proclaimed and confirmed by the oaths of the 
parties, it was secretly agreed between Dermot 
and Rory that Dermot should bring no more 
foreigners into Ireland, and moreover that he 
should send back those whom he had brought as 
soon as he had reduced Leinster to submission. 

Such is Gerald's account of the matter, but 
without questioning that it correctly represents 
the view taken by his friends x and states truly 
the conditions of peace, we may doubt if it 
gives a correct impression of the main object 
of Rory's expedition. Since his inauguration Policy 
as King of Ireland in 1166, Rory had been ard-n. 
very active in making hostings throughout the 
various divisions of his kingdom, obtaining 
hostages from the subordinate kings, dividing 
their territories, settling disputes, and generally 
making his power felt. A brief account of these 
proceedings, derived mainly from the Four 
Masters, will show what Rory's general policy 
was, and will serve to put in truer perspective 
his Leinster expedition. 

In 1167 Rory followed up his hostings of 
the previous year by leading an expedition 
into Tiro wen, where Murtough O'Loughlin, his 
former rival, had recently been slain. Here he 
divided the territory between Niall O'Loughlin 

1 Gerald must have derived his account of the military 
events of this year mainly from his uncle, Robert Fitz 


and Aedh O'Neill, and exacted hostages from 
each. Then on the return of Dermot Mc Mur- 
rough, as we have seen, he exacted hostages 
from him for Okinselagh, and obtained a large 
money compensation for the affront done to 
Tiernan O'Rourke. In Munster, Murtough 
O'Brien, who had expelled his father Turlough 
in 1165, and had apparently been recognized 
in 1166 by Rory O'Conor, whose half-brother 
he was, as King of Thomond, was killed in 
1168 by Conor O'Brien — the representative of 
an elder branch. Conor was himself, with his 
conspirators, immediately afterwards killed, and 
Donnell O'Brien, of whom we shall hear much, 
a brother of Murtough, then assumed the 
kingdom of Munster. Rory O'Conor, however, 
led an army into Munster, divided the king- 
dom between Dermot Mac Carthy and Donnell 
O'Brien, obtained hostages from the former, 
and levied an eric of 720 cows on Desmond for 
the killing of Murtough O'Brien. In Meath in 
the same year, the king, Dermot O'Melaghlin, in 
revenge of his father, killed the lord of Delvin, 
who was under the protection of Connaught, 
and Rory at the head of an army exacted 
an eric of 800 cows. Dermot O'Melaghlin was 
deposed by the people of East Meath in revenge 
for the payment of the aforesaid cows. He 
recovered his position by fighting, and joined in 
the hosting into Okinselagh in 1169. But later 


in the same year * he was slain by his nephew, 
Donnell of Bregia. Thereupon Rory again inter- 
fered, expelled Donnell of Bregia, and divided 
Meath between himself and Tiernan O'Rourke. 

Thus in Ulster, Munster, and Meath, the 
activity of the ard-ri was directed to secure the 
submission of the provincial kings by the exac- 
tion of hostages, and to weaken their power 
by dividing their territories. Much might be 
said for this policy had it been effective, but 
these enforced divisions only resulted in chronic 
fighting among the dissatisfied chieftains. We 
now come to Rory's expedition into Leinster, 
which seems to have taken place late in 1169. 
His object, primarily at least, was not to get 
rid of the handful of foreigners, in his eyes 
almost a negligible quantity, still less was it to 
expel Dermot, but to obtain his submission, 
exact more important hostages, and regularize 
his position in Leinster. These objects he for 
the moment obtained, and the settlement was 
for the moment as effective or ineffective 2 as 
the settlement of the other portions of Ireland. 

1 The entries in Four Masters, 1169, are, as often, out of 
chronological order. Dermot O'Melaghlin's death is re- 
corded prior to his joining in the hosting. 

2 In 1169 Conor O'Loughlin assumed the kingship of the 
Cinel Owen. In 1170 Donnell O'Brien was at war with 
O'Conor, and Donnell of Bregia was back again in Meath, 
turned against O'Conor and O'Rourke, and submitted to 
Dermot : Four Masters. 


With the return of Rory's army the first 
great danger that threatened the invaders 
passed away, and the first opportunity that 
Ireland had of ridding herself of the foreigner 
Coming of was lost. Soon afterwards Dermot heard to his 
Fitz great joy of the arrival of two ships at Wex- 

Gerald - ford bearing Maurice Fitz Gerald, Fitz Stephen's 
half-brother, accompanied by ten knights, thirty 
mounted retainers, and about one hundred 
archers on foot. 1 This reinforcement went 
far to fill the gap caused by the defection of 
Maurice de Prendergast and his men. Maurice 
Fitz Gerald at this time must have been upwards 
of sixty years of age. He is described by his 
nephew Gerald de Barry as an upright and 
discreet man, remarkable for his good faith and 
energy, modest as a maiden, true to his word, 
and famed for his courage. He was the com- 
mon ancestor of the two great houses of the 
Geraldines, that of Leinster and that of Desmond, 
both of which houses played so important a part 
in the subsequent history of Ireland. 

We must now return to ' Maurice of Ossory ' 

Maurice and tell how he fared under his new master. 2 

dergastin The territory adjoining Ossory on the north 

Ossory. wag j^ x ( mc i u( i e d in Mary's reign in Queen's 

County), of which the O'Mores were the ruling 

family. It was no part of Ossory, but was 

1 Gir. Camb. v. 244; Song, 11. 1157-75. 

2 Song, 11. 1176-1391. . 


properly subject to the King of Leinster. With 
the aid of Prendergast the King of Ossory made 
a successful raid into the territory of Leix, 
and eventually O'More promised to submit to 
Mac Gillapatrick and give hostages on a fixed 
day three or four days ahead. A truce for 
that period was accordingly granted. Meantime 
O'More besought Dermot, as King of Leinster, 
to come to his aid, and he with Fitz Stephen 
and Fitz Gerald came promptly into Leix. 
When Prendergast was informed of this, and 
knew that he would have to fight, not against 
an Irish host, but against a superior number 
of his own late comrades, he recommended 
a retreat. This was successfully carried out, 
though the retreating army was pursued by 
Dermot to the borders of Ossory. Dermot then 
returned to Ferns, taking care, however, to 
bring with him hostages from O'More of Leix. 
The men of Ossory now began to grumble at 
having to give pay to English soldiers who no 
longer brought them victory, and some even 
proposed to massacre them and divide their 
goods. The king, however, would not agree 
to this treachery, but with regret gave leave to 
Prendergast to return to his own country, and 
probably informed him of the meditated plot. 
The foreigners were now at Kilkenny, making 
preparations for their immediate return, when 
they heard that the men of Ossory had plashed 


the passes through which they had to go and 
had laid an ambuscade for them with two 
thousand well-armed men. The king, who was 
no doubt innocent of this treachery, or at any 
rate helpless to prevent it, was at Fertagh, 
a place about fifteen miles away. Prendergast 
accordingly required all his address and craft 
to get himself out of the tight place in which 
he found himself. He sent word to Mac Gilla- 
patrick that he was willing to serve him for 
another period, and took care that the news 
should be spread through the country. Those 
in ambush then returned to their homes, where- 
upon Prendergast and his men secretly took 
horse and rapidly escaped to Waterford, whence 
they sailed for Wales. 
Expedi- Early in the next year (1170), Dermot, 
against emboldened by the accession to his forces of 
Dubim. ]?-£ Z Q era i(j an( j hi s men? determined to march 

on Dublin and attempt to obtain the submis- 
sion of the Ostmen of that city. We have 
already mentioned that Dermot Mac Maelnamo, 
great-grandfather of Dermot MacMurrough, 
had been recognized as King of Dublin, and that 
Donough MacMurrough, Dermot' s father, had 
been slain by the foreigners of Dublin and, 
according to the current story, buried ignomi- 
niously with a dog. In 1162 Dermot himself 
appears to have been recognized as overlord of 
Dublin. He had, therefore, claims on Dublin 


as well as a blood-feud with its inhabitants. 
While, then, Fitz Stephen was left behind, forti- 
fying a rock known as the Carrick, 1 on the 
right bank of the Slaney a couple of miles above 
Wexford, Fitz Gerald, accompanied by Dermot, 
took the command of the army and marched 
to the Dyflinarskirri or Scandinavian district 
in the immediate neighbourhood of Dublin. No 
attempt was made to take the city, but the 
adjoining regions were soon laid waste by 
plunder, fire, and sword, and at length the 
citizens, who seem to have shrunk from meeting 
the Normans in the open, sued for peace and 
gave security for their future fidelity and due 
submission. 2 

It was probably soon after this that Donnell O'Brien 
O'Brien, king of half Munster, turned against against 
the ard-ri and forfeited his hostages. 3 As we n^ nor> 
have seen, Rory had divided Munster between 
him and Dermot Mac Carthy in 1168. Next 
year Donnell treacherously blinded his brother, 
Brian of Slieve Bloom, who had assumed the 
principality of Ormond, near that mountain, in 
1168. This may have been done merely to get 
rid of a rival to his throne, but evidently Donnell 

1 Song of Dermot, 1. 1397, note, where the true site of this 
stronghold is shown. 

2 Gir. Camb. v. 245. Ann. Tigernach, 1170: 'Mac 
Murchada received the Kingship of the Foreigners of 

3 Four Masters, Ann. Tigernach, 1170. 

1226 M 


was not satisfied with the division of his patri- 
mony made by the ard-ri He had pretension 
to be king of all Munster, as his father Tur- 
lough had been before him, and he resented the 
interference of Rory 0' Conor and withdrew his 
allegiance. Donnell was son-in-law to Dermot 
Mac Murrough, and he now sought and readily 
Obtains obtained the assistance of some of his father- 
froni Fitz in-law' s foreign allies in his struggle with the 
' tep en * ard-ri. Robert Fitz Stephen, with a band of 
men including Meiler Fitz Henry and Robert 
de Barry, marched across Ireland to Limerick 
to aid in repelling the advance of the ard-ri. 
0' Conor brought a huge fleet, probably down 
the Shannon, and ravaged Munster therefrom, 
while his men of Connaught advanced into 
Thomond and Ormond, and the plank bridge 
of Killaloe was burned. We have no particulars 
of the part played by the Normans in this 
expedition, and are merely told that Rory, 
after getting the worst of several conflicts, was 
obliged to retire. 1 Next year the ard-ri con- 
tinued the contest and forced fresh hostages 
from Donnell. The temporary assistance of the 
foreigners was of little avail to Donnell, but 
the foreigners themselves had learned the way to 
Limerick, and had learned, moreover, that they 
could go with a small expeditionary force across 
Ireland and return in safety. 

1 Gir. Camb. v. 245. 



Dermot had now, at the close of the year Dermot 
1169, by the aid of his Norman auxiliaries, King of r 
made himself master, in a sense, of all Leinster, msteT * 
including Ossory, from Dublin to Wexford. 
That is to say, he had overrun the various tribal 
territories included in Leinster, with the excep- 
tion perhaps of Offaly, as to which nothing is 
said, and had presumably obtained submission 
and exacted hostages from their chiefs. The 
recognition was, no doubt, in many cases forced, 
but he was nevertheless once more the recognized 
King of Leinster, able to make his power felt 
exactly in the same way as other provincial 
kings, when their authority was disputed, were 
able to make their power felt. He had, more- 
over, an ally, if not a subordinate, in his son-in- 
law, Donnell O'Brien, King of Thomond, who 
had recently, with the aid of Fitz Stephen, 
successfully withstood the ard-ri. The time had 
now come when, if he was to carry out the 
secret clause in his treaty with the ard-ri, he 
should send his foreign mercenaries home, but 

m 2 


so far was he from fulfilling that engagement 
that he now, we are told, looked beyond the 
Aspires confines of Leinster, and hoped with the aid 
monarchy of his Norman troops to subdue the King of 
Ireland Connaught and win for himself the high-kingship 
of Ireland. He disclosed his design in con- 
fidence to Fitz Stephen and Fitz Gerald, who 
replied that it might easily be accomplished if 
he could obtain further troops from England. 
He then urged them to invite over their kindred 
and countrymen in greater numbers to Ireland, 
and he is even said to have made to each of them 
the same offer that he had made to Strongbow, 
namely, his daughter's hand and the succession 
of the kingdom, if they would carry out the 
execution of his project. But as they both 
happened to be lawfully wedded, they were 
unable to avail themselves of this offer, and 
Writes to finally Dermot resolved to write to Richard 
bow! 18 Fitz Gilbert, Earl of Striguil, to remind him of 
his promise and urge its prompt fulfilment. 
Strongbow was told, in language, we may be 
sure, much less flowery than that which Gerald 
reports to us, that all Leinster had now been 
subdued, and that if he would come with a 
strong force it would be easy to conquer the 
rest of Ireland. 1 

While Strongbow had now, in consequence 
of Fitz Stephen's success, more inducement than 
1 Gir. Camb. v. 246. 


ever to risk his life and fortunes in the Irish 
adventure, he had, in Dermot's new proposal, 
fresh ground for hesitation. Henry's general 
licence was, as we have seen, a licence to aid 
Dermot in the recovery of his dominion in 
Leinster, but Dermot's new proposal was to 
conquer all Ireland. In these circumstances 
Strongbow thought it prudent to seek Henry's 
express sanction to the enterprise, and having 
obtained an interview with the king he besought 
him either to restore to him the lands which 
belonged to him by hereditary right or to grant 
him leave to accept Dermot's offer and seek 
his fortune in Ireland. 1 Henry appears to have 
avoided committing himself to a positive answer; 
but Strongbow, laying hold of some words of 
his, spoken, according to Gerald, more in jest 
than in earnest, which he interpreted as favour- 
able to the project, set about making his pre- 
parations. When winter was past, about the Coming of 
first of May, he sent on before him into Ireland May ino! 
Raymond, a young man of his household, with 
ten knights and seventy archers. 2 

Raymond was a son of William Fitz Gerald, 
and therefore nephew to both Robert Fitz 
Stephen and Maurice Fitz Gerald, and the fact 
that he was a member of Strongbow' s household, 

1 Ibid., p. 247. So Gervase of Canterbury (vol. i, p. 234) 
says of Earl Richard, licentiam abeundi petiit et obtinuit. 

2 Ibid., p. 248. 


and sent forward at the head of his little force 
by Strongbow, is a further indication that the 
earlier expedition of the Geraldines was under- 
taken in concert with Strongbow, and not 
altogether independently of him. One of the 
knights sent by Strongbow with Raymond was 
Walter Bluet. 1 Raglan Castle, in Monmouth- 
shire, is said to have been granted to him in 
consideration of soldiers, money, and arms fur- 
nished to Strongbow for his expedition to 
Ireland. 2 
Bescrip- Gerald de Barry gives a description 3 of his 
Ray. cousin Raymond, which, though probably more 
mond * applicable to a somewhat later period of his life, 
may be substantially reproduced here. He was 
of little more than average height, but very stout 
(hence he was often called Raymond le Gros). 
He had rather curly yellow hair, large round 
grey eyes, a somewhat prominent nose, and 
a high-coloured, jovial, pleasant countenance ; 
and although undoubtedly corpulent, he made 
up for the heaviness of his body by his light- 
heartedness and high spirits. He was a man of 
simple habits, not luxurious in either food or 
dress, patient and hardy, and equally inured 

1 Song of Dermot, 1. 1497. Walter Bluet witnessed several 
charters granted by Strongbow to St. Mary's Abbeys at 
Dublin and Dunbrody. 

2 Journ. Brit. Arch. Assoc, vol. x, p. 319. 

3 Gir. Camb. v. 323. 

to heat and cold. He was careful of his men, 
and would spend nights in going the rounds of 
his sentinels and challenging them to keep them 
on the alert. It was owing to his vigilance that 
the men in his command had the good fortune 
of rarely, if ever, being overwhelmed in rash 
undertakings or being caught by surprise. In 
short, he was a kind and prudent man, a skilful 
and daring soldier, and a consummate general. 

Raymond, we are told, landed at a certain Hfcland- 
sea-cliff called Dundonnell ' about fourteen] ^f/ ace 
miles from Waterford on the southern coast of encam P- 


Wexford ', where he threw up a somewhat 
slight fortification made of earth and boughs 
of trees. 1 The name Dundonnell, pointing to an 
ancient Celtic or, possibly, Scandinavian fort, 
is now forgotten, and the place is called Bagin- 
bun. Common fame derives this strange name 
from the two greatest ships in which the English- 
men there arrived. It used sometimes to be 
written ' Bagg and Bunn ', and la Bague and 
la Bonne are not improbable names of Norman 

1 The authorities for Raymond's landing-place and 
the subsequent battle are Gir. Camb. v. 248-53, and 
the Song of Dermot, 11. 1400-99. Gerald calls the place 
Dundunnolf and the Song Dondonuil, &c. The Irish 
Abridgement of the Expugnatio gives the true form Dun 
Domhnaill {anglice Dundonnell). For its identification 
with Baginbun see my papers in the Journ. R. S. A. I. 
1898, pp. 155-60, and 1904, pp. 354-7, and compare 
Mr. Westropp's description, ibid. 1906, p. 257. 


ships. Tradition has linked the spot with the 
landing of Fitz Stephen, and the earthworks 
there with the name of Strongbow, and has 
retained the memory of a fateful battle fought 
in the neighbourhood ; but from contemporary 
evidence we know that neither Strongbow nor 
Fitz Stephen landed here, and there is no reason 
to suppose that either of them entrenched him- 
self or fought a battle in this district. But the 
position of the headland, and the character of 
the great earthwork there, point clearly to 
Raymond's landing-place and fortification as 
indicated in the authorities, and the fateful 
battle may well have been the fight to be 
presently described. 

Baginbun is a rocky headland rising abruptly 
from the sea on the south coast of County 
Wexford, between Bannow Bay and the Hook. 
A minor point of the headland jutting out 
towards the east is cut off by some ancient 
earthworks, after the manner of a ' cliff- 
castle '. This probably represents the early 
Scandinavian or Celtic dun. The whole head- 
land, embracing about thirty acres, is also 
marked off from the mainland by a huge trench, 
700 feet long and 40 feet wide, with inner and 
outer earthen ramparts, and this entrenchment 
was in all probability the work of Raymond 
le Gros. 

At this fortress, then, Raymond was joined 


by Hervey de Montmorency with three knights, 
and (we must suppose) a small troop of men. 
We hear nothing of Robert Fitz Stephen and 
the Geraldines, who may have been absent in 
Thomond assisting Donnell O'Brien, Dermot's 
son-in-law, in his revolt against the ard-ri, 
Dermot himself, weakened by the defection of 
Maurice de Prendergast, and perhaps by the 
absence of Robert Fitz Stephen, did not stir. 
It was probably thought wiser to make no 
move until Strongbow came. Meanwhile Ray- 
mond and his little band, probably not much 
more than a hundred all told, were in great 
danger of being overwhelmed, and they had 
ample need of strong entrenchments and stout 
hearts. Accordingly Raymond collected cattle, 
drove them within his lines, and awaited the 
event. This followed speedily in the shape of 
a determined attack by the Ostmen of Waterf ord. 

The men of Waterf ord may well have thought Attack 
that the time had come for them to strike the n^ no e f 
first blow. With the warning they had received ^ er " 
in the fall of Wexford in the previous year, they 
may well have foreseen that their town would 
be attacked next. It would be better to extir- 
pate this little band of foreigners entrenched 
so near the mouth of their fiord before they 
were reinforced by further troops. They had 
heard of the exploits of Fitz Stephen, and they 
knew what masters of the art of war were these 


Norman kinsmen of theirs, with whom, however, 
they had lost all sense of kinship. Therefore 
they did not despise Raymond's little force, 
though it numbered hardly a hundred men. 
They took counsel with their neighbours, with 
whom they seem to have been on good terms, 
and organized a force some three thousand 
strong. O'Phelan, Prince of the Decies, a large 
district adjoining their territory on the west, 
assisted them, and a contingent came from 
Ossory, across the river, and even from O'Ryan, 
chieftain of Odrone, in the modern county of 
Carlo w. 1 They crossed the river Suir, and hav- 
ing formed into three bands marched towards 
Battle of Raymond's camp. The two accounts of the 
neii. " ensuing battle which have come down to us, 
though not exactly inconsistent with each other, 
differ somewhat in details. Reconciling them 
as well as we can, we infer that Raymond 
determined to sally forth and meet his oppo- 
nents in the open. Whatever his motive may 
have been, this movement seems to have been 
a mistake, and nearly led to a disaster. His 
little band could not resist so great a multitude, 
but turned and fled back to their camp. So 
closely were they pursued that some of the 
enemy got inside the entrenchments before the 
barricades could be closed. Then Raymond, 

1 In the partition of Dermot's territory made in 1166 
Odrone had probably been annexed to Ossory : supra, p. 70. 


seeing the jeopardy that he and his men were in, 
faced the foe, and cut down with his sword the 
first of his pursuers who crossed the threshold. 
It was probably at this moment that a curious 
incident, preserved by the old French chronicle, 
occurred. Raymond, as we have seen, had 
collected a number of cattle within his lines at 
Baginbun, and these, either taking fright at 
the turmoil, or, as would seem more probable, 
being designedly driven forth, rushed wildly 
through the entrance of the fort and met the 
impetuous onset of the attacking party. 

This was the first company 

That sallied from the fort, I trow, 

says the Norman Rhymer, with a touch of 
humour. The maddened cattle disconcerted 
and put into confusion the ranks of the Irish, 
and then Raymond, who had meanwhile rallied 
his men, raised his battle-cry of St. David and, 
throwing himself upon the disordered crowd, 
turned what seemed very nearly a crushing 
defeat into a complete victory. Upwards of 
500 are said to have been killed, and numbers 
were thrown from the cliffs into the sea. In the 
quaint words of an early translator of the 
Expugnatio, ' Here the pride of Waterford fel ; 
here al his myght went to noght. Her-of come 
[to] the Englysshe hope and comfort ; and to 
the Iresshe dred and wanhope ; for it was neuer 


there-to-for I-herd, that of so fewe men so grett 
a slaght was done.' 

The glory of victory was quickly tarnished 
by a deed of unusual severity. The English 
had taken seventy of the principal townsmen of 
Waterford prisoners, and the question arose 
what was to be done with them. Raymond and 
Hervey, as we are told by Raymond's cousin, 
took opposite sides on this question. Raymond 
pleaded on behalf of mercy to those who were 
no longer resisting but were vanquished, and 
urged that they should be held to ransom. 
Hervey argued that mercy was out of place 
while the people generally were unsubdued, that 
they had come to conquer and not to spare, 
that the prisoners were more numerous than the 
guards, and were an ever-present danger in their 
midst in the event of a further attack. In the 
end the sterner counsels prevailed, and the 
wretched captives had their limbs broken and 
were cast headlong from the cliffs into the sea. 

Notwithstanding the completeness of this vic- 
tory Raymond remained very quietly atBaginbun 
for some three months, 1 waiting for Strongbow's 
arrival before attempting anything further. 
Meanwhile the earl was completing his prepara- 

1 It is possible that the date (about the calends of May) 
given by Gerald for Raymond's arrival is too early. The 
Song of Dermot says that Strongbow arrived very soon 
after the battle : bien tost apres, 1. 1501. 


tions and was marching along the coast-route The com- 
of South Wales to St. Davids, gathering fresh strong- 
recruits as he went. This was part of the route JSmwt 
so graphically described for us in Gerald's !™. 
Itinerary through Wales. Starting from his 
Castle of Striguil on the cliff overhanging the 
Wye ; he would march through Netherwent, 
famous for its archers, many of whom, no doubt, 
he brought with him, to the ancient Roman 
town of Caerleon, the city of the legions, and 
so to Newport and ' the noble fortress on the 
Taff ' (Cardiff), first perhaps a mere ' mote- 
castle ' erected within the Roman castrum by 
Robert Fitz Hamon, the conqueror of Morganwg, 
but rebuilt magnificently by Robert, Earl of 
Gloucester, son of Henry I. Next he would 
advance through Morganwg to Neath and the 
Flemish settlements at Gower, where such names 
as Scurlege Castle and Horton remind us of the 
Scurlocks and Hores, early settlers in Wexford. 
Then he would reach Caermarthen, where his 
father, Gilbert Fitz Gilbert, had built the castle, 
and thence to Haverford, and perhaps St. Davids, 
to the famous shrine. 1 At Haverford he appears 
to have persuaded Maurice de Prendergast, who, 
as we have seen, had returned to his home in 
the neighbourhood, to try his fortunes in Ireland 
once more. Indeed, it is probable that many 

1 This is stated in the Irish Abridgement of the Expug- 
natio, § 19. See English Historical Review, 1905. 


of Strongbow's followers came from the cantrefs 
about Haverford and Pembroke, inasmuch as 
the names of many of those who are believed to 
have accompanied him, as well as of those who 
are known to have been among the first settlers 
in Ireland, can with great probability be traced 
to these regions. 

We may here quote Gerald's description of 
the earl. In reading it we must bear in mind 
that Strongbow did not belong to the noble 
progeny of the Castellan of Pembroke. He did 
not belong even to one of the allied families 
connected by a common descent from Nesta. 
True, his fortunes were to a large extent linked 
with those of the great Geraldine clan. He 
had fought by their side against the common 
enemy in South Wales, and now he had come 
to their assistance in Ireland, and had ranged 
himself with them against the natives, whether 
Norse or Celtic, and later on he enfeoffed them 
with rich lands. He is not, therefore, to be 
classed with William Fitz Audelin and other 
late-comers, who were jealous of the Geraldines 
and craftily deprived them of the best fruits 
of their valour, leaving to them the remote and 
barren marches next the enemy, while them- 
selves keeping the rich and safe lands beside the 
coast. Nevertheless we can detect a jealousy 
of Strongbow in the mind of our historian, 
a jealousy which shows itself in an endeavour 


to belittle his powers and his performances, 
a jealousy which was probably but the reflection 
of a feeling amongst the Geraldines that Strong- 
bow had come over after they had shown the 
way and borne the brunt of the danger, and by 
his greater name and greater success had over- 
shadowed their more sterling qualities and had 
secured the greater reward. 

This is the manner of man he was according Descrip- 
to Gerald de Barry : ' A man with reddish hair, g££ng- 
freckled skin, grey eyes, feminine features, thin bow - 
voice, and short neck. For the rest, he was 
tall in stature, open-handed, and kindly in 
disposition. What he could not accomplish by 
force he would effect by gentle speech. As 
a private individual he was more disposed to 
be led than to lead. In time of peace he had 
more the air of an ordinary soldier than of 
a commander, but in war he was a commander 
rather than a fighter. He was daring enough 
in carrying out the plans of his subordinates, 
but of his own initiative he would never take the 
offensive or stake everything on personal valour. 
In actual battle his standard was ever a sure 
rallying-point for his men. In defeat, as in 
victory, he was calm and unmoved, neither 
driven to despair by adversity nor unduly elated 
by prosperity.' 1 

Making allowance for the evident Geraldine 
1 Gir. Camb. v. 272. 


bias of this picture, we think we can gather from 
it, and still more certainly from what we know 
of Strongbow's doings, that he was really a man 
of higher stamp than any of the descendants of 
Nesta. He was not so reckless a fighter as Meiler 
Fitz Henry, nor so bold a general in the field as 
Raymond le Gros, but he had military and, 
above all, statesmanlike qualities denied to 
them, which fitted him for the work of subduing 
Ireland and subjecting her people to Norman 
rule. Perhaps the difference was partly racial, 
for he had no Welsh blood in his veins. He 
would gain his end by the sword if necessary, 
but if possible by the gentler arts of persuasion 
and compromise. Much as we may admire 
the courage which the first conquerors showed 
in facing fearful odds, and wonder at the success 
of their expeditions, they had really effected 
little towards gaining a permanent foothold 
in Ireland or in pacifying, as distinguished 
from plundering, Leinster, and at the time 
of Strongbow's arrival their prospects were 
far from assured. In the six remaining years 
of Strongbow's life the Anglo-Norman settle- 
ment in Leinster became an accomplished 
fact, and the whole face of the province was 

At the last moment, when his preparations 
were complete and Strongbow was ready to 
embark, messengers came from the king for- 


bidding the expedition ; ■ but it was too late to 
draw back, and Strongbow sailed from Milford 
Haven with a force consisting of 200 knights 
and about 1,000 other troops, probably lancers 
and archers. 2 He landed near Waterford, prob- 
ably where King Henry landed in the follow- 
ing year, at Crook, or more precisely at the 
landing-place now called Passage, a little below 
the confluence of the three rivers, the exact date 
being the eve of St. Bartholomew, August 23, 
1170. Next day Raymond joined him with 
forty knights, including perhaps some of the 
earlier comers, and on the morning of the 25th 
the united forces advanced to the assault of 

Waterford was at this time a walled town. Water- 
The ancient walls have been traced, and it the 
appears that they formed a small triangle, 0stmen - 
containing about fifteen statute acres, with the 
base along the right bank of the river. 3 Reginald's 
Tower, believed to be the turris Raghnaldi men- 
tioned by Gerald, still exists, and marks the 

1 Wm. of Newburgh, vol. i, p. 168. 

2 Giraldus, p. 254. The Song, 1. 1503, says Bien quinz 
cent od set mena. The entries in the Irish annals are meagre 
and confused. That in the Annals of Tigernach (followed 
by the Four Masters) lumps together the arrivals of Robert 
Fitz Stephen and Richard Fitz Gilbert and the captures of 
Wexford and Waterford. 

3 Smith's Waterford (1746), p. 169. Cf. Cal. Docs. Irel., 
vol. i, no. 763. 

1226 xr 


eastern limit of this base. Other towers mark- 
ing the other two angles have disappeared. The 
ancient Irish name for the harbour or estuary- 
was Loch Da Caech (i. e. the lough or estuary 
of the two blind ones), but it was afterwards 
generally called Port Lairge, probably from 
Laraic, a Scandinavian chieftain. 1 The North- 
men, however, called it Vedrafiordr, meaning 
' weather-haven ', and this is the name now 
represented by Waterf ord. The ' foreigners of 
Port Lairge ' are first mentioned towards the 
close of the ninth century. 2 Reinforcements 
throng in early in the next century and ' place 
a stronghold (long port) there '. 3 Among them 
is Raghnall, grandson of Ivar, one of the clan 
that founded dynasties in Dublin and Limerick 
as well as in Waterford. With him comes Earl 
Ottir the Black, ' and the whole of Munster,' in 
the exuberant language of the Irish shanachy, 4 
c became filled with immense floods, and count- 
less sea-vomitings of ships and boats and fleets, 
so that there was not a harbour nor a landing- 
port nor a dun nor a fortress nor a fastness in 
all Munster without fleets of Danes and pirates.' 
In the course of the tenth century the Northmen 
settled down into a more peaceful life as traders 
in their seaport towns — occasionally, no doubt, 

1 Four Masters, 951, note. 2 Ibid., 888. 

3 Ibid., 910, 912, 915; Ann. Ulster, 913, 914. 

4 Wars of the Gaedhil with the Gaill, p. 41. 


fighting and raiding, but less frequently than 
the Irish themselves raided and fought. They 
became Christians too, of a sort, and those of 
Waterford, following the example of their 
kinsmen in Dublin, applied in 1096 to Anselm, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, to ordain one Malchus, 
a monk of Winchester, as their bishop. 1 By 
this time the town had become of considerable 
size and importance. Its inhabitants held the 
country near Waterford, and the name of the 
barony of Gaultier, ' the land of the foreigners,' 
marks their occupation. It is even possible 
that the round stone forts at the promontory 
of Hook and at Dunmore date from the Norse 
period, and are to be ranked with Reginald's 
Tower as among the few relics of Scandinavian 
masonry which have survived to our times. 2 

1 Ussher's Sylloge, epist. 34, ed. Eirington, vol. iv, p. 518 ; 
Eadmer's Hist. R. S., pp. 76-7. 

2 The Hook Tower has, however, been virtually rebuilt to 
form a lighthouse, and Reginald's Tower appears to have 
been restored and perhaps remodelled by the Normans. 
The masonry of the upper part is very similar to that of the 
Norman addition to the town walls, and is of quite a different 
character from the lower part. The town walls were ex- 
tended by the Normans in the early part of the thirteenth 
century so as to include a larger area to the south and west, 
and the existing remains of walls and mural towers probably 
date from about that time. Those at the eastern side appear 
to follow the lines of the Scandinavian walls. Grants of 
customs to enable the citizens to enclose the town were 
repeatedly made by Henry III (Cal. Docs. Ireland, vol. i, 
nos. 1163, 2133, 2613). 



Water- As in the case of their kin at Wexford, the 


taken by Ostmen of Waterf ord l were able for a time to 
repulse their assailants from the walls. Twice 
they had beaten them off, when Raymond, who 
is stated by his kinsman to have been in 
command, perceived a little house jutting out 
from the wall and supported by a post on the 
outside. He at once summoned the whole force 
to the assault at this spot, and sent some mail- 
clad men to hew down the post. When this was 
done the house fell, dragging a considerable 
portion of the wall with its ruins and laying open 
a practicable breach. Rushing over the debris 
and through this breach, the assailants stormed 
the town, butchered the citizens in crowds, and 
gained a bloody victory. In RaghnalFs or 
Reginald's tower, which is mentioned by name, 
two Norse leaders, named Sitric, were taken 
and put to the sword. A third leader, named 
Raghnall, and Melaghlin OThelan, Prince of the 
Decies, taken in the same place, were spared 
at the intervention of Dermot, who with Fitz 
Stephen and Maurice Fitz Gerald arrived shortly 

1 The authorities for the capture of Waterford are 
Giraldus, vol. v, p. 254-5 ; Song of Dermot, 11. 1499-1539. 
The Annals of Tigernach (followed and corrected by the 
Four Masters) states that Mac Gillamuire, the officer of 
the fort at Waterford, was taken prisoner, but it appears 
that this was Raghnall's patronymic. See note to Song, 
1. 1506. 


Thus fell Waterford, a city which the Irish 
seem never to have taken, not at least since the 
days of Dermot' s great-grandfather, Diarmaid 
MacMaelnamo, and certainly never to have 
garrisoned and held. Dermot himself, indeed, 
as we have mentioned, aided by Conor O'Brien 
and the Danish fleets of Dublin and Wexford, 
had besieged it in 1137 and exacted hostages, 
but it does not appear that the city was taken 
or plundered. Now Strongbow placed a garrison 
in the city, locating the guards, as we may 
suppose, in the Danish towers. Herein we see 
the difference between the Celt and the Norman. 
The Celt would have plundered and burnt the 
town and then left it. The Norman plunders, 
no doubt, but puts a garrison in to hold the 
place, and, if necessary, fortifies it. 

Strongbow had now given earnest, as it were, 
that he would fulfil his engagement with Dermot, 
and Dermot now showed himself ready to fulfil 
his part of the bargain. This was promptly done, 
and Dermot' s daughter, Aoife or Eva, was given Marriage 
in marriage to the earl, and the treaty, according bow and 
to which Strongbow was to succeed Dermot as Eva - 
King of Leinster, was confirmed, so far at least 
as such a treaty could be confirmed without the 
free sanction of the tribes concerned. 

A famous fresco preserved in the precincts of Maciise's 
the House of Commons has for its subject the picure " 
marriage of Strongbow and Eva. The knight 


and his lady stand in the open battlefield, 
amid flaming houses and with the bodies of the 
dead and dying strewn around. Far be it from 
me to question the prescriptive right of the 
painter to treat his subject in an imaginative 
way, and to introduce any setting that serves to 
help out his thought ; but in view of the state- 
ments of recent historians it is almost necessary 
to remark that Maclise's picture is not a con- 
temporary record, and cannot be used, as the 
Bayeux Tapestry has been used, to fill up the 
gaps of contemporary writers. There is no 
other authority for this scene, which on the face 
of it is utterly improbable. In all probability 
the marriage ceremony took place in the Christ 
Church of the Holy Trinity at Waterford * some 
days after the taking of the town. It is true 
that Gerald, in a heavily loaded Latin sentence 
(of which he was probably proud), lumps to- 
gether a great number of events : he says in 
a breath, as it were, that the two Sitrics were 
taken in Reginald's tower and put to the sword ; 
that Reginald and Melaghlin O'Phelan were 
taken in the same place, but that their lives 
were spared at the intercession of Dermot, who 
had just then arrived with Maurice and Fitz 
Stephen ; that a garrison was placed in the city ; 

1 The crypt of this church seems to have been a replica 
of that at Christ Church, Dublin (Journ. R. S. A. I. 1894, 
p. 73) ; but probably both were Norman. 


that Der mot's daughter Eva was there married 
to the earl, her father giving her away and con- 
firming the treaty ; and that the united army 
marched towards Dublin. It is obvious that 
all these events did not take place on the 
same day. Dermot could hardly have received 
notice of Strongbow's arrival in time to enable 
him to summon his men and reach Waterford 
in the middle of the assault, which according to 
Giraldus took place on the day next but one 
to Strongbow's arrival. But we are not depen- 
dent on inferences for the conclusion that some 
days elapsed between the taking of the town and 
the marriage of Strongbow and Eva. According 
to the express statement of the Song of Dermot, 
which indeed is not inconsistent with that of 
Giraldus, it was after the earl had taken 
Waterford that he sent messengers to Dermot 
to acquaint him with this fact and to invite 
the king to join him with his English troops, 
and it was in joyful response to this message 
that Dermot came with the English barons and 
his daughter, and fulfilled, as far as in him lay, 
his part of the bargain. 1 

But, indeed, the marriage of Eva and Strong- Signifi- 
bow stands in need of none of these lurid oHhe 
accompaniments to heighten its dramatic effect. marna g e - 
No marriage like it had ever taken place in 
Ireland before. Irish ladies of the highest rank 
1 Song of Dermot, 11. 1516-39. 


had indeed wedded with Norman knights. 
Murtough O'Brien, King of Munster and (with 
opposition) of Ireland, had, for instance, given 
his daughter in marriage to Arnulf de Mont- 
gomery, the first founder of Pembroke Castle. 
But these ladies had gone to live on their lords' 
lands and had followed their lords' fortunes, 
while Eva was to endow her lord with a broad 
fifth of Ireland. It is true that according to 
Celtic law it was not in her power, nor in 
Dermot's power, to do this. In theory and in 
normal practice the successor to the chieftain- 
ship was chosen from some ruling family by the 
subject tribes, but it must be remembered that 
it was no uncommon occurrence for different 
members of the privileged family or families 
to fight for the succession, and even for a ruler 
to be imposed from without in opposition to 
the local choice. The succession was, however, 
never regarded as simply hereditary, nor in 
recent times, at any rate, was it ever held or 
handed on by a woman. This marriage then, 
with its professed object, was something entirely 
new in Ireland. It marks the first clash of 
English feudalism with Celtic tribalism — the 
first clash of those discordant ideas which were 
to lead to so much hardship and misunder- 
standing in the future between the two races. 
It is not, indeed, to be supposed that Strong- 
bow was so ignorant of Celtic customs as to 


imagine that he was getting by this marriage 
a clear and indisputable title to the kingship 
of Leinster. He must have been familiar with 
the tribal customs of Wales, which, though 
breaking down, were not very dissimilar to those 
of Ireland. In all probability, as already 
remarked, he did not look forward to the 
position of a tribal chief at all, but rather to 
that of a feudal lord over a vast fief which he 
knew he must sooner or later hold of the Crown. 
Dermot, indeed, who was utterly unscrupulous 
in the furtherance of his ambition and revenge, 
may have intended to force a tanist upon his 
subjects, or at least to appear to Strongbow to 
be doing so ; but Strongbow himself probably 
regarded the marriage as merely strengthening 
a position which he knew full well must be 
won and held by the sword ; just as Gerald 
of Windsor and Bernard of Newmarch had 
strengthened the positions they had won in 
Wales by their marriage alliances with the 
families of the legitimate princes. But this 
marriage was more than the mark of clashing 
ideas : it was a sign which all might read that 
the invaders had come to stay. They were not 
mere marauders who ravage and plunder and 
run off with the spoil. They were not mere 
mercenaries who when they had won Dermot' s 
battles for him would return with their pay 
whence they came. They had come to stay 


and to rule. Thus much those who were clear- 
visioned amongst the spectators of this wedding 
may have foreseen. But there was something 
else which the Irish at any rate did not foresee, 
but which we, looking back across the centuries, 
can see clearly enough. This union of Strong- 
bow and Eva was the symbol of that union 
between the two islands which, for better or 
worse, has lasted ever since. 

A council of war was now held at which 
Strongbow, Dermot, Raymond, Maurice de Pren- 
dergast, Meiler Fitz Henry, and other leaders 
were present, and it was determined that the 
next move should be on Dublin. This, we 
may be sure, was a project which commended 
itself to Dermot. He had, as we have seen, 
an old claim on the allegiance of Dublin and 
a blood-feud with its inhabitants. But apart 
from personal motives, there were excellent 
strategic reasons pointing in the same direction. 
Wexford and Waterford had fallen, but the 
greatest of the Norse strongholds remained 
intact. The Ostmen of Dublin had, indeed, 
nominally submitted to Dermot in the early part 
of the year, but something more than nominal 
submission was now required. It was obvious 
that if Dermot was to hold Leinster securely it 
was desirable to take and hold Dublin. Moreover, 
Dermot, as we have seen, did not now limit 
his ambition to Leinster. With the aid of his 


foreign troops he hoped to take vengeance on 
his old enemy Tiernan O'Rourke and on Rory 
0' Conor himself. He had not forgotten or for- 
given those who had expelled him from his king- 
dom of Leinster. He had even ultimate aims 
on the high-kingship of Ireland. In these wider 
aims, we may be quite certain, his English allies, 
with a view to their own succession, actively 
encouraged him. From their point of view it 
was absolutely essential to gain possession of 
Dublin. Once inside its walls they would know 
how to hold it, and they would have a new 
base, accessible by sea, in the middle of the east 
coast from which to extend their operations. 
Dublin, though held by foreigners and not the 
seat of the King of Ireland, nor the mother city 
of the Irish Church, was undoubtedly the chief 
town, and was rapidly coming to be regarded, in a 
less technical sense, as the metropolis of Ireland. 
In order to understand its position better, it will 
be well here to glance briefly at its past history. 

Dublin had been for upwards of three cen- Scandina- 
turies in Scandinavian hands. 1 It owed its Dublin. 

1 The foreigners of Dublin are generally called by modern 
writers Danes, but Dr. Alexander Bugge has shown that the 
dynasty was probably Norwegian throughout : The Royal 
Race of Dublin (1900). Giraldus, too, speaks not only of 
the earlier invasion under Turgesius (Thorgils) as Norwegian, 
but says that the later comers under Amlaf Sitric and Ivar 
came from Norway and the northern isles. They were 
called in his time Ostmanni : Gir. Camb. v. 182-7. 


origin and importance as a town and seaport to 
them. The name, Dubh-linn, means the ' black 
pool ', and was in early times applied by the 
Irish to the mouth of the Liffey, and not to a 
town at all. It seems to have been the North- 
men who first applied the name, under the form 
Dyflin, to the town. The Irish always called the 
town Baile aiha cliath, meaning ' the town of the 
ford (or crossing) of hurdles', a name which appar- 
ently owed its origin to a bridge of hurdles by 
which the ancient road slight Cualann from Tara 
crossed the Liffey above the ' black pool ', until 
it was superseded by the bridge of the Ostmen. 
As we have seen, the battle of Clontarf, 
though it permanently weakened the Northmen 
and put an end to all possibility of uniting 
Ireland under a Scandinavian dynasty, did not 
seriously affect the position they had gained in 
Ireland. They retained their hold of Dublin, 
Wexford, Waterford, Cork, and Limerick, until 
the coming of their remote kinsfolk the Normans. 
They joined occasionally in the tribal warfare 
of the Irish, but they devoted themselves more 
and more to trade and peaceful arts. Their trade 
with Bristol was not confined to a traffic in slaves, 
and the town of Chester appears to have had 
definite trading rights with Dublin in the time 
of Henry I. 1 They were Christians of a sort 

1 See Round's Feudal England, p. 465, where a writ from 
Henry II (c. 1175-6) is cited, directing that the burgesses 


even before the battle of Clontarf, but they 
now more fully adopted the cross of Christ as 
their symbol of victory instead of the dis- 
credited Raven banner. Dunan or Donatus 
was the first Ostman Bishop of Dublin (circa 
1038), and in his time the Cathedral of the Holy 
Trinity, commonly called Christ Church, is said 
to have been founded. 1 

It is not known by whom Dunan was con- The 
secrated, but after his death, in 1074, the clergy i n com- 
and laity of Dublin chose a priest named ^J™ on 
Patrick and sent him to Lanfranc, Archbishop Canter- 
of Canterbury, to be consecrated. 2 This cere- 
mony Lanfranc performed at St. Paul's Cathedral 
after receiving Patrick's profession of canonical 
obedience, and copies of Lanfranc's letters sent 
by the hand of the newly consecrated bishop 
to ' Gothric glorious King of Ireland ' and to 
' Terdelvac magnificent King of Ireland ' have 
been preserved. 3 This Gothric was in all proba- 
bility the Godfrey, son of Amlaf , son of Raghnall, 
King of Ath Cliath, whose death is recorded 
in the next year. 4 Terdelvac was of course 

of Chester might buy and sell in Dublin, and have the same 
rights, liberties, and free customs which they used to have 
in the time of Henry I. 

1 Liber Niger of Christ Church. 

2 Ussher's Works (Elrington's ed.), vol. iv, p. 488. It 
appears from this letter that even at this time the Norse- 
men expressly termed Dublin Hibemiae insulae metropolis. 

3 Ibid., pp. 490, 492. * Ann. Ulster, 1075. 


Turlough O'Brien, King of Munster, who, since 
the death of Dermot MacMaelnamo, was the most 
powerful chieftain in the south of Ireland, and 
had probably been acknowledged by the citizens 
of Dublin as their overlord. Following the 
example of Bishop Patrick, the three succeeding 
bishops of Dublin were all consecrated in Eng- 
land, and promised obedience to the See of 
Canterbury, while they maintained an attitude 
of independence, if not of antagonism, towards 
the See of Armagh and the Celtic Church. 1 

In 1028 Sitric Silkbeard went on a pilgrim- 
age to Rome, but his family seem to have 
maintained their position in Dublin up to the 
year 1052. In that year Dermot, son of 
Maelnamo, King of Leinster, then the most 
prominent king in Ireland, plundered Fine Gall, 
drove out Echmarcach, and assumed the king- 
ship of the foreigners. 2 Dermot was slain in 
1072, and thenceforward the Northmen, though 
generally ruled by their own countrymen, were 
often obliged to give hostages to the more 
prominent Irish kings. Indeed, during the 
century and a half of anarchy, of which we have 
already given a slight sketch, it seems to have 
been more and more recognized that any 

1 See their professions of canonical obedience, Ussher's 
Sylloge, p. 120, also Epistle no. 40 ; and cf . Ware's Bishops. 

2 Ann. Tigernach, Four Masters, 1152 ; Ann. Ulster, vol. i, 
p. 591, note. 


chieftain who had pretensions to the crown of 
Ireland should first of all obtain the adhesion of 
the foreigners of Ath-cliath. We have seen that TheHigh- 

_ _ kings and 

Malachi II, Brian Borumha, and Dermot Mac Dublin. 
Maelnamo all entered Dublin and took hostages, 
and in each case their claims to the chief power 
may be said to date from the submission of 
Dublin. Next Turlough O'Brien secured the 
adhesion of Dublin before making his first 
(unsuccessful) attempt to obtain hostages from 
the northern chieftains, 1 and again in 1080 it 
was at Dublin that he received the submission 
of Meath and of the clergy of the north. 2 Mur- 
tough, his son, the year after his accession to the 
throne of Munster, defeated the Leinstermen at 
Rath Edair (Howth), and apparently secured 
the allegiance of Dublin. 3 In 1118 Turlough 
0' Conor, now preparing to contest the throne, 
marched on Dublin and exacted hostages. 4 In 
1154 Murtough O'Loughlin, Turlough's most 
formidable foe and successor, obtained the sub- 
mission of the Ostmen of Dublin, and gave them 
1,200 cows as their wages or stipend to secure 
their fealty and future services in war. 5 Finally, 

1 Four Masters, 1075. 

2 Ann. Tigernach, Four Masters, 1080. 

3 Ibid. 1087. 

4 Ann. Ulster, Ann. Loch Ce, Four Masters, 1118. 

5 Four Masters, 1154. Four years previously, on the 
occasion of an advance by Murtough O'Loughlin, ' the 
Foreigners made a year's peace between the North and the 


on O'Loughlin's death in 1166, Rory O'Conor 
marched on Dublin, took hostages, and was 
there inaugurated as ard-ri, and he levied a 
tax of 4,000 cows upon the men of Ireland for 
the stipend of the foreigners. 1 These facts go 
to show the increasing political importance of 
Dublin. Though inhabited and directly ruled by 
foreigners, and not the seat of the ard-ri, it had 
gradually come to be regarded as in some sort 
the capital of Ireland. 

At the time of which we treat, Haskulf , son of 
Raghnall, son of Thorkil, was King of Dublin. 2 
He had thrown off his allegiance to Dermot, 
and had, as we have seen, submitted to Rory 
O'Conor, and along with O'Rourke had been 
one of the principal instruments of Dermot' s 
Rory aids expulsion. On hearing of Dermot' s impending 
expedition against Dublin, Haskulf sent to his 

South of Ireland,' indicating that they held the balance 
between the contending sides. 

1 Ann. Tigernach, Four Masters, 1166. The enormous 
number of cows constituting its ' stipend ' indicates the 
pre-eminence of Dublin. On the same occasion the stipends 
to Uriel, Ofifaly, Offelan, and Ossory were only 240 cows 
apiece. This acceptance of cows from the overlord was 
the regular symbol of subjection to him. 

2 He is called Asgall son of Raghnall son of Turcall by 
the Four Masters, 1170. Gerald calls him Hasculphus, and 
in the Song he is named Hesculf or Esculf Macturkil or 
Mactorkil. Raghnall son of Turcall, King of the Foreigners 
of Dublin, was slain in 1146, and Brodar son of Turcall, 
King of Dublin, in 1160: Ann. Tigernach. 


overlord for assistance, and Rory promptly 
came to his aid, accompanied by O'Rourke, 
O'Melaghlin, and O'Carroll, with the forces 
of Breffny, Meath, and Uriel. The regular 
route from Wexford to Dublin followed up the 
course of the Slaney to the west of the Wicklow 
Mountains, and approached Dublin by way of 
Naas and Clondalkin. A possible alternative at 
this side was the defile of Glen Saggart. There 
was also a less frequented coast route through 
the Windgate near Bray, and a route through 
Enniskerry and the Scalp, both narrow defiles. 
Rory, expecting Dermot by some one of these 
routes, lay at Clondalkin, five miles south-west 
of Dublin, with his main army, and sent out 
troops to plash and beset the passes through 
the woods and hold the narrow defiles against 
Dermot's advance. Informed of this by his The Irish 
scouts, when already some way on his march, turned? 
Dermot avoided the traps laid for him, and 
leading his army across the mountain ridge to 
Glendalough reached Dublin by a mountain 
track * — perhaps approximately that now fol- 
lowed by the military road from Sally Gap by 
Glencree and Killakee to the woods of Rath- 
farnham — thus turning the Irish position. 

We may be quite sure that Strongbow came 
to the walls of Dublin intending to take posses- 

1 Per devexa montium de Glindelachan latera : Gir. Camb. 
v. 256 ; cf . Song of Dermot, 11. 1570-1623. 



sion of the town by assault if necessary, and 
having taken it, to put a garrison into it and 
hold it against all comers. The Irish custom of 
taking hostages for good behaviour was a poor 
substitute for placing a garrison in a secure 
The Ost- fortress, when that was practicable. The towns- 
treat for folk, with the example of Waterf ord before their 
veace ' eyes, endeavoured at once to make terms with 
Dermot. Perhaps they had lost some of their 
dash and daring, now that they had become 
Christians, and no longer believed that the 
Valkyries, Odin's corse-choosers, were waiting 
on the battle-field to bring all who fell bravely 
fighting to Odin's hall. At any rate, they sent 
envoys to Dermot headed by their archbishop, 
Lorcan or Laurence O'Toole, who was Dermot's 
brother-in-law. It was due in particular to 
his mediation that negotiations for peace were 
entered on. Maurice Regan, Dermot's trusty 
servant and secretary, to whom we owe so much 
of our information, was dispatched to the town 
with Dermot's terms, which were that the 
citizens should return to their allegiance and 
should surrender to him thirty hostages for 
their good behaviour. The position of a hostage 
at this time was far from enviable. Even if 
well treated by his jailor, his eyes or his life 
were always liable to be forfeited upon breach 
of the conditions which those who had surren- 
dered him had undertaken to observe. This 


forfeiture was constantly exacted by the highest 
and best in the land, and indeed had it been 
otherwise the system of hostages would have 
been unmeaning and useless. We can then well 
believe the statement that a difficulty arose 
when it came to the selecting of the hostages. 
None but the more influential citizens would of 
course be accepted, and these were the very 
ones who could best resist the imposition of the 
hated office. The negotiations were therefore 
protracted, and apparently extended over three 

Meanwhile two young leaders, Miles de Cogan The town 
and Raymond le Gros, who were posted near sur ^rise^ 
the city, becoming impatient at the delay, ®JJ-J* 21, 
rushed suddenly with their following at the 
walls and gained access to the town* The 
Ostmen were evidently taken unawares, for they 
seem to have made no stand against the storming 
party. Many of them were killed, but the greater 
number, led by Haskulf, succeeded in escaping 
with their more valuable effects to their boats 
and galleys, which were moored in the river 
ready for this contingency, and sailed off to 
their kinsfolk in the Hebrides and Man. This 
exploit, in which we may suspect a treacherous 
breach of truce, was performed without the 
order or the knowledge of either Dermot or 
Strongbow, who were encamped somewhat 
further from the city. Thus Dublin fell on the 



day of St. Matthew the Apostle, September 21, 
Rory's But what was the Irish army under the ard-ri 

explained, doing all this time ? It is clear that they 
departed without fighting, but why ? To this 
question our Norman authorities do not give 
any complete answer. From the Song, indeed, 
we should infer that when Rory saw himself 
out-manceuvred by Der mot's march across the 
mountains, he simply retired and disbanded his 
army. The Irish Annals, 1 however, throw a some- 
what different light on the action of the ard-ri. 
Rory had summoned his army to defend the 
Ostmen of Dublin, who had recently submitted 
to him, against the threatened attack of Dermot 
and the English, and he remained on the ' Green 
of Ath-Cliath ' (near Kilmainham) ready to fight 
in their defence. But instead of showing fight 
against Dermot, the men of Dublin prepared to 
submit to him, and with this view had entered 
independently into negotiations with him. Rory 
regarded this impending submission as a repudia- 

1 Four Masters, Ann. Tigernach, Ann. Ulster, 1170. The 
Four Masters give the clearest account, and probably 
preserve the meaning of the original entry. The passage in 
the Annals of Tigernach which states that ' the Foreigners 
assented to the burning of the town, since they perceived 
that to be with MacMurchada was to revolt against the King 
of Ireland ', is unintelhgible as it stands. Probably we 
should read Gaedhil for Gaill, i. e. ' the Irish * for ' the 
Foreigners '. 


tion of their allegiance to him. After three days, 
while the negotiations were still going on, a 
thunderstorm broke over the town, and the 
lightning set it on fire. This ' act of God ' was 
regarded as showing the displeasure of Heaven 
against the Ostmen for having ' deserted from 
the Connaughtmen and the people of North 
Ireland in general '. Accordingly 0' Conor left 
the traitors to their fate and returned with 
his whole army. The subsequent surprise and 
sacking of the town was looked upon as a 
' miracle ', or just judgement, on the Ostmen 
' for having violated their word to the men of 
Ireland '. Such is the view the annalists seek 
to convey, and we may accept it as helping to 
explain Rory's inaction ; but we may suspect 
that, had not the Irish, unsupported by the 
Ostmen, felt themselves unable to cope with the 
Norman force in the open ground in the neigh- 
bourhood of Dublin, they would not have 
departed without forcing a battle. 

The Northmen had been driven out of Dublin 
before, but never by any one who knew how 
to hold a town, and they had always succeeded 
in regaining their position. But now the town 
was occupied by one who was a master in the 
military art, and we may be quite sure that its 
fortifications were made stronger than ever. 
Dermot had amply avenged himself on the 
citizens of Dublin, but he still burned for ven- 


geance on Tiernan O'Rourke 1 and the men of 

Meath and Breffny who had been the immediate 

Dermot agents of his expulsion. Accordingly an army 

Meath. was led by Dermot and his knights into East 

Meath, and they plundered Clonard and burned 

Kells and many another place in the valleys of 

the Boyne and Blackwater celebrated from of old 

for some religious house. Then they invaded 

O'Rourke' s proper territory as far as Slieve Gory, 

a hilly district in the barony of Clankee, in the 

county of Cavan, and carried off many prisoners 

and cows to their camp. Donnell of Bregia, the 

reinstating of whom may have formed a pretext 

for this incursion, and the men of East Meath, 

now turned against O'Rourke and 0' Conor and 

His gave hostages to Dermot. The next step was for 

put to GS Tiernan O'Rourke to put to death the hostages 

death. of East Meath which he held, and for O'Conor 

to put to death the hostages which Dermot 

had given him for Leinster. These latter were 

1 Tiernan O'Rourke was, as we have seen, hereditary 
chieftain of Breffny, a district embracing the modern counties 
of Cavan and Leitrim. He is called by Gerald Rex Meden- 
sium, and the expression at this time was not incorrect. 
For in the previous year Dermot O'Melaghlin, the hereditary 
King of Meath, had been murdered by his nephew Donnell 
O'Melaghlin, known as Donnell of Bregia, and O'Conor had 
in consequence expelled Donnell and divided Meath into 
two parts, keeping the western part to himself and giving 
East Meath to his staunch ally Tiernan. At this time, then, 
Tiernan 's territory extended right across Ireland from the 
mouth of the Erne to the mouth of the Boyne. 


Dermot' s own son, Conor, his grandson, son of 
Donnell Kavanagh, and the son of his foster- 
brother O'Caellaighe. They were put to death 
at the instigation of O'Rourke, ' for O'Rourke 
had pledged his conscience that Rory should not 
be King of Ireland unless they were put to 
death.' * Gerald, indeed, purports to give us 
the correspondence that passed between Rory 
and Dermot on the subject, and Rory's letter is 
so exactly in keeping with the facts that we may 
take it as in substance correct. ' Contrary to 
the terms of our treaty,' he writes, ' you have 
invited a host of foreigners into this island. 
So long, however, as you confined your opera- 
tions within your ancient kingdom of Leinster, 
we bore it patiently ; but now, inasmuch as, 
unmindful of your oath and reckless of the fate 
of your hostage, you have passed the limits 
assigned and insolently crossed even your 
hereditary boundaries, for the future you must 
either restrain the irruptions of your foreign 
troops or I shall certainly send to you the 
decapitated head of your son.' To this warning 
Dermot arrogantly replied that he would not 
desist from his enterprise until he had subdued 
Connaught, which belonged to him by ancestral 
right, 2 and won for himself the monarchy of 

1 Ann. Tigernach, Ann. Ulster, Four Masters, 1170 ; Gir. 
Camb. v. 257. 

2 By this expression Dermot probably alluded to his 


Ireland. We cannot wonder that Rory kept his 

In the face of this new and extended invasion 
of the foreigners, while the ard-ri felt called upon 
to do no more than wreak his vengeance on 
Council Dermot's hostages, an assembly of clergy con- 
clergy, vened at Armagh came to the inept conclusion 
that it was a just judgement for the sins of the 
people in carrying on a slave trade with England, 
and they accordingly decreed that throughout 
the island all English slaves should be set free. 1 
In times past Bristol had been the great centre 
of this trade with the Ostmen, but through the 
exertions of Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester, the 
iniquitous traffic had been abandoned. 2 Possibly 
during the anarchy of Stephen's reign it had 
to some extent revived. 

A few other items may be gleaned from the 
Irish Annals. It appears that the people of 
Uriel, as well as those of Meath, gave hostages to 
Dermot 3 and assisted him against O'Rourke. 4 
The latter made reprisals upon his enemies and 
harried again the northern part of Meath and 
Fingall, but the serious fighting for the year was 

descent from Dermot MacMaelnamo, who by some was 
reckoned King of Ireland. The remark is significant as 
bearing out what has already been stated, that since the 
usurpation of Brian Borumha any chieftain might aspire to 
the crown of Ireland. 

1 Gir. Camb. v. 258. 2 William of Malmesbury. 

3 Ann. Tigernach. 4 Four Masters. 


over. Dermot retired to his former seat at 
Ferns, never to leave it again ; and Strongbow, 
on October 1, leaving Dublin under the care of 
Miles de Cogan, set out for Waterford ' with an 
ample suite '. According to the Four Masters, 
the garrison left here had met with a reverse at 
the hands of Dermot Macarthy and the men of 
Desmond, and it may be that Strongbow thought 
it necessary to strengthen it. He had, however, 
a greater difficulty to contend with. The King Henry 
of England had become alarmed at the news of [n^ders. 6 
Strongbow' s successes, magnified perhaps by 
report. It would never do to allow anything 
like an independent kingdom to be erected in 
Ireland. It was difficult enough to keep in 
hand the lords who had carved out for themselves 
lordships in Wales, among whom were these very 
de Clares and Fitz Geralds. It might become 
impossible to control them in the sea-divided 
Ireland. Besides, he had designs on that coun- 
try of his own, when he could find time and 
opportunity to prosecute them. Accordingly 
he issued an edict placing the Irish ports 
under a sort of paper blockade, and ordering 
all his subjects there to return before the 
following Easter on pain of forfeiting their 
lands and being banished from the kingdom 
for ever. 

This move of Henry's put Strongbow into 
great straits, for not only could he no longer 


obtain reinforcements 1 or supplies from Wales, 
but he was in danger of losing his followers, who, 
to avoid outlawry, would have to obey the royal 
edict. Accordingly, after consulting his friends, 
he dispatched Raymond to the king, then in 
Raymond Aquitaine, with the following letter : ' It was 
Henry. with, your licence, my lord, if I remember rightly, 
that I crossed over to Ireland to aid your liege- 
man Dermot in recovering his territories. Where- 
fore whatever lands I have had the good fortune 
to acquire here either from his patrimony or 
from that of any one else, inasmuch as I owe 
them all to your gracious favour, I shall hold 
them at your will and disposal.' 2 

The terms of this letter, and the undertaking 
contained in it, sufficiently indicate what Strong- 
bow understood to be the motive of Henry's 
action. It was not any regard for the rights 
of the Irish ; it was simply the apprehension 
of trouble and risk to the English crown if a 
strong, independent kingdom were established in 
Ireland. If there had really been any danger 
of Strongbow's setting up an independent 
kingdom there, Henry's determination thus 
early to counteract such a project would have 

1 That some individuals nevertheless came to Ireland 
from England at this time ' against the king's command ', 
and were fined for so doing, appears from the Pipe Roll, 
17 Henry II, pp. 29, 92. 

2 Gir. Camb. v. 259. 


been amply justified. The whole subsequent 
history of the relation between England and the 
quasi-independent kingdom of Scotland shows 
what troubles and perils such a relationship 
necessarily involves. But there was certainly no 
immediate prospect of Strongbow's succeeding 
in any such enterprise, even if, as is unlikely, he 
ever entertained the idea. Henry's embargo, 
then, must rather be regarded as the first example 
of that perversity which in after years too often 
characterized England's policy towards Ireland, 
and from which, perhaps, it is not yet wholly 
free, a perversity which manifests itself in first 
encouraging the formation of an English colony 
in Ireland for the greater glory and security of 
the English Crown, and then, not from any 
regard to the native Irish, but from motives of 
suspicion and jealousy, thwarting the efforts 
of that colony whenever it seemed likely to be 
successful and prosperous. 



Dermot MacMurrough did not live long to Death of 

i t • f Dermot, 

enjoy Ins recovered kingdom. In the spring ot Mayim. 
1171 he died, and was buried at Ferns. 1 The 
Irish annalists, in recording the event, show their 
bitter feeling by alleging that he died an evil 
death — ' without unction, without the Body of 
Christ, without penance, without a will' — and 
ascribing it to the miracle of the saints whose 
churches he had destroyed. A more friendly 
hand, however, has made the following entry 
in the Book of Leinster : ' Diarmait son of 
Dunchadh son of Murchadh [reigned] forty six 
[years]. And he was King of all South Erin and 
also of Meath. He died at Ferna after the 
victory of unction and penance in the sixty-first 
year of his age.' 2 There seems no reason why 
we should not accept the dates indicated by this 
entry, which comes at the end of a long list of the 
Kings of Leinster. It would refer the commence- 
ment of his reign to the year 1126 (if we count 

1 Gir. Camb. v. 263 ; Song of Dermot, 11. 1728-31. 

2 Book of Leinster (Facsimile), p. 39 (d). 


inclusively), and that was the year of the death 
of the preceding king, Enna Mac Murrough. He 
is described by Giraldus as plenus dierum at his 
death, but sixty-one was old for an Irish warrior 
king, and as he headed his army on arduous 
expeditions to the last, he must have retained 
much of his vigour. 1 
Rising in Dermot's death was the signal for the revolt 
of the Irish of Leinster against Earl Richard. 
It is plain that the tribes were not ready without 
a struggle to accept the arrangement, entirely 
unknown to Irish legal custom, by which the 

crown of Leinster was to pass, on Dermot's 


1 O'Donovan states that Dermot was in his sixty-second 
year at the time of the rape of Dervorgil (1152) : notes to 
Four Masters, vol. iii, pp. 4 and 96. From this it would 
follow that he was in his eighty-first year at his death in 
1171. But O'Dono van's statement seems to result from 
a miscalculation founded on an unsupported statement of 
Dr. O'Conor that Dermot was expelled in his seventieth year 
(1166) : see note to Song of Dermot, 1. 1729. The Book of 
Leinster contains the only early data on the subject, and its 
statements are consistent with Dermot's pedigree and the 
succession of kings. His father, Dunchad Mac Murchada, 
was killed at Dublin in 1115 (Ann. Ulster, Ann. Tigernach, 
Ann. Loch Ce), when Dermot, ex hypothesi, was only five 
years old. The next king, Diarmait Mac Enna, died in 1 1 1 7. 
He was succeeded by Enna Mac Dunchada Maic Murchada 
(presumably an elder brother of Dermot), who died in 1126 
(ibid.), from which date Dermot's reign is reckoned. He 
would then have been in his seventeenth year. As we have 
seen, however, some years elapsed before he gained real 


death, to his foreign son-in-law. Only three 
Irishmen of any note are said to have remained 
faithful to Strongbow. These were Donnell 
Kavanagh, his brother-in-law, who had hitherto 
accompanied him in his victories; O'Reilly of 
Tirbriuin or Breffny, whose family had a long- 
standing blood-feud with the O'Rourkes of the 
same district, and this O'Reilly had probably 
been expelled from his country by Tiernan 
O'Rourke ; and Aulaff O'Garvy, a petty chieftain 
of the district about Rathvilly, co. Carlow. 1 The 
Leinster tribes were incited to revolt by Mur- 
tough MacMurrough, son of Dermot's brother, 
Murrough ' of the Irish,' who had been set up 
as King of Okinselagh on Dermot's banishment. 
But the combination against Strongbow was not O'Conor' 
confined to Leinster. The ard-ri O'Conor lent iSii 
a willing ear to the request for assistance, and 
summoned ' the Irish of all Ireland ' to accom- 
pany him to the siege of Dublin. 2 Lorcan, or 
Laurence 0' Toole, the Archbishop of Dublin, 
according to a report mentioned by Gerald, 

1 Song of Dermot, 11. 1734-41 ; cf . 11. 1788 and 1909. 

2 The authorities for O'Conor's siege are the Song of 
Dermot, 11. 1746 to 1966; Gir. Camb. v. 265-70; Ann. 
Tigernach, 1171. The two last place Haskulf's expedition 
before O'Conor's hosting, but for the reasons given infra, 
pp. 245-6, I am inclined to think that the Song of Dermot 
preserves the true sequence. The Four Masters follow the 
Annals of Tigernach, and the siege is not mentioned in 
the Annals of Ulster nor in those of Loch Ce. 


is said to have been especially zealous in 
beating up allies, not hesitating to call in 
foreigners to expel foreigners. In conjunction 
with Rory 0' Conor, he sent letters to Gottred, 
King of Man, and the wikings of the western isles, 
urging them to blockade the city by sea. Some 
of these chieftains, induced by promise of 
reward, and also thinking that their own inde^ 
pendence would be imperilled by the success of 
the English adventurers, straightway sailed to 
the mouth of the Liffey with a fleet of thirty 
ships, thus effectually cutting off Dublin from 
any supplies which, in spite of Henry's embargo, 
might come by sea. Meanwhile, the vast host 
assembled by 0' Conor invested the city on 
every side. Castleknock, about four miles to 
the west of the city, was the head- quarters of the 
ard-ri, while still nearer, on the other side of 
the river, Donnell O'Brien, who had recently 
submitted to 0' Conor, was at Kilmainham. On 
the north, at Clontarf, lay MacDunlevy, King 
of Ulidia, or Eastern Ulster, while Murtough 
Mac Murrough blocked the southern coast road 
at Dalkey. 

For nearly two months the investment lasted, 
and provisions began to fail. No attempt seems 
to have been made to take the town by assault, 
or even to commence siege operations. The walls 
and ditches had probably been strengthened 
by the Normans during the winter, and, at any 


rate, the Irish were quite unversed in the art 
of conducting a regular siege. They probably 
did not advance within bowshot of the walls, 
but seem to have been satisfied with a somewhat 
loose investment. There were some skirmishes 
between the opposing parties for the space of a 
fortnight, and a party of horsemen, we are told, 1 
was sent by O' Conor to cut down the corn of 
the Saxons, from which we may perhaps infer 
that the month of August had been reached. 
Still, the inactivity of this huge investing army 2 

1 Ann. Tigernach, 1171, followed with slight variations 
by the Four Masters. 

2 Giraldus says ' cum infinita totius fere Hiberniae multi- 
tudine ' (p. 265), and speaks of O'Conor's division as alone 
comprising 30,000 men (p. 268). Such large numerical 
calculations may be disregarded, but it was little exaggera- 
tion to say that all Ireland sent contingents to this siege. 
From Giraldus (p. 269) we learn that besides those men- 
tioned above the following chieftains were also present : — 
In the southern army Machelanus, i.e. Faelan Mac Failain 
(Mackelan), King of Offelan; Machtalewi, aLeinster chief- 
tain of uncertain locality (see Song of Dermot, note, p. 318) ; 
Gillemeholmoch, i.e. Domhnall Mac Gillamocholmog, King 
of Ui Donchadha ; and Otuethelis, i. e. Ua Tuathail (O'Toole), 
King of Ui Muireadhaigh. In the northern army Ororicius 
Medensis, i.e. Tighearnan Ua Ruairc (O'Rourke), Bang of 
Breifne, with claims over Meath ; Ocaruelus Uridensis, i.e. 
Murchadh Ua Cearbhaill, King of Oirghialla (Murrough 
O'Carrol, King of Uriel) ; Machsachelinus, i. e. (probably) 
Domhnall Breagach Ua Maelseachlainn (O'Melaghlin), King 
of Meath ; and Ocadesi, i. e. Ua Cathasaigh (O'Casey), lord 
of Saithne. Tirowen, Tirconnell, Desmond, and Ossory 
seem to be the only important districts not represented, 

1226 p 


is hard to explain, unless, as seems probable, 
they were waiting for the expected arrival of 
Haskulf, son of Thorkil, the exiled lord of Dublin, 
before undertaking the assault of the town, 
strong- Unable to obtain supplies by either land or 

bow seeks 

terms. sea, the earl found his stock of provisions nearly 
exhausted, when a new cause of anxiety arose. 
Donnell Kavanagh with a few followers managed 
to slip into the beleaguered city with the intelli- 
gence that Robert Fitz Stephen was besieged in 
his castle of Carrick, and that if not relieved 
within three days it would be all over with him. 1 
Thereupon Strongbow summoned his principal 
followers to a council of war. The Song of 
Dermot gives us the names of several. They 
include some with whom we are already familiar 
and others of whom we shall hear again : Robert 
de Quency, Walter de Ridelisford, Maurice de 
Prendergast, Miles de Cogan, Meiler Fitz Henry, 
Miles, son of David Fitzgerald, the bishop, 
Richard de Marreis, and Walter Bluet. To 

The Song of Dermot, 1. 1753, says seisant[e] mil[e] erent 
armez, but as already mentioned (supra, p. 77), this phrase 
merely means ' a very large number \ 

1 This is the statement as given by Giraldus, p. 266. 
According to the Song of Dermot (11. 1790^), Donnell 
Kavanagh told the earl of Fitz Stephen's actual capture 
and imprisonment. This may be correct ; in which case 
Strongbow's subsequent march towards Wexford was 
undertaken in the hope of forcing his captors ' to liberate 
the imprisoned Robert ' (1. 2023). 


these we must add from Giraldus, Raymond 
le Gros and Maurice Fitz Gerald. 1 When the 
barons were assembled in council the earl laid 
before them the desperate state of affairs, and 
proposed to make terms with 0' Conor, to offer 
' to become his man and holdLeinster of him'. 
This proposal was adopted, and the Archbishop 
Laurence 0' Toole, 2 accompanied by Maurice de 
Prendergast, was sent to the King of Connaught 
with the message. Rory 0' Conor, however, 
confident in his strength, would have none of 
these terms. He was willing indeed to leave to 
Strongbow the cities the Norsemen had hitherto 
held, Dublin, Waterford, and Wexford, but not 
another rood of ground in all Ireland would he give 
them, and, he added, that if the earl did not accept 
this offer he would assault the city on the morrow. 

1 Gir. Camb., vol. v, p. 266, where Raymond is said to 
have just returned from court, i.e. from his mission to 
Henry II. Two of the sons of Maurice Fitz Gerald, Gerald 
and Alexander, were also in Dublin (Gir. Camb., p. 268). 
His wife and younger children appear to have been left 
under the care of Fitz Stephen (ibid., p. 266). After 1. 1802, 
in the transcript of the Song of Dermot, one or more lines 
are missing, and Morice le fiz Gerout and le gros Reymun 
may have been mentioned here. 

2 The presence of Laurence 0' Toole in the beleaguered 
city, and his undertaking this mission of peace, discredit his 
alleged zeal in organizing the hosting against the Normans. 
After all, Giraldus merely mentions this antagonistic zeal as 
a report (ut ferebatur), and we may venture to disbelieve it. 
The archbishop is not mentioned in the Irish versions. 



a bold On hearing this reply the bold course was 
adopted to sally forth and attack the camp of 
the King of Connaught, It might seem a forlorn 
hope, but it was better than to be starved to 
death cooped up within the walls of the town, 
and there was Fitz Stephen's peril to be remem- 
bered. Gerald de Barry here puts into the 
mouth of his uncle a speech which, though it 
probably represents correctly enough the motives 
and feelings of the besieged garrison, need not 
here be given at length. One bitter sentence, 
however, is so remarkable at this early date, and 
has been so applicable to the English colony 
almost at any time in the centuries that have 
since elapsed, that I cannot forbear quoting it : 
1 What are we waiting for ? ' he exclaims, 'Are we 
looking for help from our own people ? Nay, 
such is our position, that to the Irish we are 
Englishmen, and to the English, Irishmen.' l 

Accordingly, three companies of about 200 
men each, under the command of Miles de Cogan, 
Raymond le Gros, and Earl Richard respectively, 
prepared for an immediate sortie. 2 Each com- 

* * Ea jam lege tenemur, ut sicut Hibernicis Angli sic et 
Anglis Hibernici simus,' Gir. Camb., p. 267; cf. Camb. 
Eversus, vol. iii, p. 167. The allusion, no doubt, was to 
Henry's embargo, and perhaps to the unfavourable report 
brought back by Raymond. 

2 The two accounts of this sortie agree substantially even 
in many details, but it is characteristic of Gerald that he 
speaks of Raymond as being in the foremost company and 


pany consisted of about 30 or 40 knights on 
horseback, 60 bowmen, and 100 foot-soldiers. 
In addition there were a few Irishmen under 
Donnell Kavanagh, and some of the citizens of 
Dublin. A sufficient guard had, of course, to 
be left in the town. Crossing the Liffey, 
perhaps by the wicker bridge erected by the 
Norsemen, Miles, who led the little band, set out 
rapidly towards Finglas. This is still the name 
of a little village about three miles nearly north 
of Dublin. It is the site of an ancient abbey 
ascribed to St. Cainnech. Here they turned to 
attack Rory's camp at Castleknock, about three 
miles to the south-west. The object of the 
detour seems to have been to surprise the camp 
and take it in the flank. At any rate, the huge 
disorderly force was quite unprepared for an 
attack, and was soon put to utter rout. The king 
himself is said to have been bathing, we may 
suppose in the Liffey hard by, and to have 
barely escaped. 1 The pursuit lasted till evening, 

the first to make the attack, while the Song clearly 
shows that Miles de Cogan was in the van and in command 
of the whole force. 

1 * Rotherico vero, qui tunc forte in balneis sedebat, vix 
elapso,' Gir. Camb., p. 269. The Song, 11. 1949-50, says, 
* A hundred and more were slain while bathing where they 
were beset.' The Annals of Tigernach, however, state that 
O'Conor had ' marched to meet the Leinstermen (what 
Leinstermen ?) and the cavalry of Breffny and Uriel went to 
cut down the Englishmen's corn ', when ' the Earl and Miles 


when the victors returned to the city, laden with 

victuals and spoils. It was an astounding 

victory. Rory's army is said to have numbered 

30,000 men, and they were utterly discomfited 

by a tiny band of a few hundreds. Allowing for 

gross exaggeration in the former figure, the 

result shows what superior arms and discipline 

can do. The effect was immediate and far- 

The siege reaching. The remaining armies to the north 

and south of Dublin at once dispersed in terror, 

and Rory 0' Conor never made another attempt 

to oust the foreigners from Dublin. 

strong- Having thus effectually raised the siege, Earl 

marches Richard delivered Dublin to the custody of 


Wexford. Miles de Cogan, and straightway set out for the 
relief of Fitz Stephen. He took the upper road 
to the west of the Wicklow Mountains, through 
the present counties of Kildare and Carlow. 

The present county of Wexford is girt round by 
natural obstacles, formidable to a twelfth-century 
invader. Washed on the south and east by the 
sea, it was protected on the north by a difficult 
hill and forest region, while on the west it is cut 
off by a high mountain range and a deep river. 
As we have seen, when 0' Conor came to attack 
Dermot Mac Murrough in 1166 and again in 1167, 
he forced the pass through ' the Dark Wood ' on 

de Cogan entered the camp of Leth Cuinn and killed a multi- 
tude of their rabble, and carried off their provisions, their 
armour, and their sumpter-horses'. 


the north leading from the Fotharta, now the 
barony of Forth, County Carlow. From this 
southwards to the Barrow there are only two 
narrow gates through the range of mountains. 
One, the Pass of Pollmounty, at the south end of 
the range, where a little stream makes its way 
to join the Barrow. Here it was that Donnell 
Kavanagh endeavoured to arrest the desertion 
of Maurice de Prendergast in 1169. The other, 
Scollagh Gap, a high defile leading from Odrone 
(now the barony of Idrone) between Mount 
Leinster and Blackstairs into Okinselagh. This 
last appears to have been the entrance towards 
which Strongbow was marching, and here, in the The forc- 
6 Pass of Odrone ', as it is called by Giraldus, he Scollagh 
was opposed by O'Ryan, chieftain of the district, ap * 
who had formed a barricade of fallen trees across 
the narrow route. 1 A sharp engagement followed, 

1 This identification, though new, is, I think, tolerably 
certain. Gerald tells us (p. 270) that the earl marched 
from Dublin towards Wexford superiore per Odronam via, 
and that the army of the Leinstermen met him in passu 
Odronae, quanquam in sui natura arcto nimis et invio, con- 
ciditms tamen plurimum arte munito, and that after the fight 
the earl ad campana indemnis evasit (p. 272), and he speaks 
of the force as descending to the territory of Wexford, 
(p. 273). This all points to Scollagh Gap as the scene of 
the fight. In fact, even at the present day, it is the only 
route between the barony of Idrone and the County Wex- 
ford. There are indeed no trees in the actual defile, but on 
the approach to it from the west there is a natural wood, 
called Coonogue wood, which very probably in the twelfth 


in which O'Ryan was killed by an arrow shot by 
a monk named Nichol, and Meiler Fitz Henry was 
stunned by the blow of a stone. These incidents, 
trivial as they are, help us to understand the 
extraordinary success of the invaders against 
almost any odds. The Irish had no weapon of 
greater precision or more deadly effect than 
a stone x with which to reply to an arrow dealing 
death from afar. When their leader fell, the 
Irish dispersed, and the earl and his men got 
safely through the defile and descended towards 
Wexford to succour Fitz Stephen. 2 
Fitz We must now turn for a moment to Fitz 

bes&ged Stephen, to see how he had fared while these 
atCamck. even t s were in progress. At the time of the 
rising he was in Wexford. He sent a small 
force, about thirty-six of his men, to aid Earl 
Richard in Dublin, but he soon found himself 
obliged to abandon Wexford and shut himself 
up in his newly constructed ' castle ' at Carrick 
on Slaney. 3 We can identify this spot with 
confidence, and from the site and the con- 
century closed the entrance. The Song (1. 2018) says the 
wood was afterwards called ' the Earl's pass ', but this name 
has been forgotten. 

1 Gerald notices the dexterity of the Irish at hurling by 
hand lapides pugillares ; see supra, chap, iv, p. 134. 

2 The authorities for the fight in the Pass of Odrone are 
the Song, 11. 1967-2020 ; Gir. Camb. v. 270-2. 

3 The authorities for the siege of Carrick are Giraldus, 
pp. 270-3, and Song of Dermot, 11. 1768-97. 


temporary descriptions we can form an idea of 
this, the first Norman castle erected in Ireland. 
It was situated on high ground on the right or His 
south bank of the Slaney, just before the river castle# 
widens into a shallow estuary. On the side 
next the river the rock descends precipitously, 
but on the land side there is a gradual ascent. A 
level space on the top — shaped approximately 
like a gibbous moon, with dimensions of about 
130 x 90 feet — is now cut off by a high earthen 
vallum and wide fosse. Fitz Stephen's fortress 
is described by Giraldus as ' an ill fortified camp, 
weakly enclosed with a wooden palisade and a 
rampart of earth.' x It probably, therefore, did 
not contain a mote or mound of earth within. 
It was rather a kind of ' promontory castle ', 
strong by nature along one curved side and 
strengthened by art on the other. Within this 
enclosure a wooden tower (bretesche or turns 
lignea) was probably erected. From it a small 
body of resolute archers could keep a large force 
of unarmoured men for some time at bay. 

For some days indeed Fitz Stephen, with only 
five men-at-arms and a few archers, successfully 

1 * Municipium immunitissimum virgis tenuiter et cespite 
clausum,' Gir. Camb., p. 266. He also mentions its fossata 
(p. 270). For proofs of this identification, a description and 
plan of the site, and its subsequent history, see a contribution 
by the present writer to Hore's Hist, of Wexford, pp. 22-34. 
The site is now marked by a Crimean monument resembling 
(from a distance) an ancient Irish Round Tower. 


*'itz resisted every attack ; but at length the assail- 
sur- ants succeeded in obtaining his surrender by the 

weapons of deceit and perjury. The Bishops of 
Wexford and Kildare, and other persons in 
religious garb, says Giraldus, came up to the 
entrenchments, and all most solemnly took 
their oaths on holy relics that Dublin had fallen, 
that the earl, Fitz Gerald, Raymond, and all 
the English had been slain, and that the hosts 
of Connaught and Leinster were marching 
on Wexford. They further protested that they 
were acting in Fitz Stephen's interest, in order 
that they might send him and his men safe to 
Wales before the arrival of his enemies. Giving 
credence to these asseverations, Fitz Stephen 
surrendered, whereupon his treacherous assail- 
ants killed some of his men, ill-treated the rest 
with wounds and blows, and flung the survivors 
into prison. 

News of this disaster met the earl when 
descending into the territory about Wexford. 
He also learnt that the inhabitants had burned 
the town and had put their prisoners on the 
island of Beg-erin. 1 They further threatened 
that if he should dare to come near them they 

1 Begerin or Begery is, or rather was, a small island in 
Wexford harbour associated with St. Ibhar. It is now 
joined to the mainland by reclamation. It contains the 
ruins of a small church and some ancient cross-inscribed 


would send him the severed heads of his friends. 
Checkmated here, the earl in much bitterness of 
spirit turned to Waterford, where the garrison 
had held its own. 

Strongbow now set about securing his position Parley 
as Dermot's successor in Leinster. This he aimed King of 
at accomplishing rather by diplomacy, backed 0ssor ^- 
where needful by a show of strength, than by 
actual fighting. First of all, he organized an ex- 
pedition against Donnell Mac Gillapatrick, King 
of Ossory. Ossory was by far the most impor- 
tant of the sub-kingdoms nominally subject to 
the King of Leinster. Indeed, more often than 
not it was practically independent, and in recent 
times its king had been frequently at war with 
King Dermot. Since the coming of the Nor- 
mans more than one hazardous expedition had 
been made into Ossory without any permanent 
result. Obviously Strongbow needed all available 
strength to overawe its king. Accordingly he 
invited Donnell O'Brien, King of Thomond, to 
join the expedition. This prince, having married 
a daughter of Dermot Mac Murrough, was con- 
nected with the earl ; but he is found at one time 
fighting on his side, and at another time against 
him, in a somewhat bewildering fashion. 1 Fitz 

1 Donnell O'Brien seems to have supported Strongbow's 
claim to succeed Dermot Mac Murrough in Leinster, but 
to have resisted him — at this period at least — when he sought 
to extend his conquests beyond the limits of that kingdom. 


Stephen had assisted him in driving Rory 0' Conor 
out of Thomond in 1170, but in 1171 O'Brien 
had to give hostages to the ard-ri, and we find 
him accompanying the ard-ri in the great hosting 
against the earl in Dublin. Now he came with 
about 2,000 men to aid Strongbow against the 
King of Ossory. They met at Odoth (Ir. ui 
Duach), a district roughly corresponding to the 
barony of Fassadinin, in the County Kilkenny. 
Here the King of Ossory came to a parley with 
them under the safe-conduct of his former 
friend, Maurice de Prendergast. O'Brien's 
counsel was to seize the King of Ossory as a 
traitor, and the barons seemed willing to agree ; 
when Maurice de Prendergast intervened, up- 
braided the barons with being false to their 
oaths, and ' swore by his sword ' that he would 
kill the first man that laid his hand on the king. 
Then Strongbow delivered up Mac Gillapatrick 
to Maurice de Prendergast, and Maurice brought 
him back in safety to his woody fastness, slaying 
on the way some of O'Brien's men who were 
pillaging the land. This story, which redounds 
to the credit of Maurice de Prendergast, is 
told with considerable detail in the Song of 

Perhaps he was for accepting the offer Strongbow made 
when besieged in Dublin, and separated from the ard-ri on 
that account. This supposition would help to explain the 
dispersal of Rory's host and O'Brien's present alliance with 


Dermot. 1 It ends with an interesting legal 
incident. The barons accused Maurice of having 
rescued a traitor, whereupon — 

4 Maurice folded his glove and gave it to 
his lord as a pledge that he would redress in 
his court whatever transgression he had com- 
mitted. And the renowned English vassals 
went sufficient security for him.' 

The expedition then broke up. O'Brien went Arrange- 


back to Limerick, and the earl to Ferns. Here, with the 
at the seat of the old royal power, Strongbow oimLe- 
was more successful in establishing himself as lagh * 
Dermot' s successor. With the aid of Donnell 
Kavanagh, he captured a neighbouring petty 
chieftain who had deserted and repudiated 
Dermot in 1166, and now refused allegiance to 
Strongbow. He seems to have been Murrough 
0' Brain of the Dufrry, 2 a woody district lying 
between Enniscorthy and the mountains to the 
west. He and his son were beheaded and their 
bodies thrown to dogs. On the other hand, 
a much more important personage, Murtough 

1 11. 2035-154. Probably, as we shall see, Donnell Mac 
Gillapatrick was left in possession of a large part of Central 
Ossory. We shall find him later on assisting the English; 

2 Song of Dermot, 11. 2161-80 ; cf . 11. 141 and 3215 and 
notes. The name was not, however, anglicized O'Brien, 
but O'Brin and (later) O'Breen. O'Dubhagain places the 
Siol Brain in the Duffry (Topog. Poems, p. 91), and probably 
the very individuals, ' Murchad Uabrain ' and ' Dalbach ' 
his son, are among the witnesses to a charter of Dermot 
Mac Murrough ; Fac, Nat. MSS. Ireland, pt. 2, pi. lxiii. 


Mac Murrough, son of Dermot's brother, Mur- 
rough ' of the Irish ', came to terms with the 
earl. He, like his father before him, was 
acknowledged as King of Okinselagh by those 
tribesmen of the territory who had fallen away 
from Dermot, and those who after Dermot's 
death had refused to acknowledge Strongbow. 
The earl is now said to have ' granted to him 
the kingdom of Okinselagh ', and at the same 
time to have ' bailled the pleas of Leinster to 
Donnell Kavanagh V By these expressions 
I think we must understand that Strongbow at 
this time granted a large portion of the dis- 
trict of Okinselagh to Murtough, perhaps to be 
held as a sort of fief under him on quasi-feudal 
terms, and that Donnell Kavanagh was appointed 
as an Irish seneschal with jurisdiction over 
pleas between Irishmen in Leinster. Even if no 
formal charter or grant was executed, some such 
arrangement seems to have been made. For 
though a very full list is afterwards given of the 
fiefs created by Strongbow in Leinster, it will be 
observed that a large portion of what was then 
known as the kingdom of Okinselagh was not 
distributed among his Norman and Welsh fol- 
lowers, and that this portion, though afterwards 
perhaps somewhat encroached upon, remained 
for centuries distinctively Irish, and was not 
planted with colonists in the same way as the 
1 Song of Dermot, 11. 2181-8. 


parts granted to his followers were. Moreover, 
a few years later we are expressly told that 
Murtough Mac Murrough and Donnell Kavanagh, 
as well as most of the other Leinster chieftains, 
were on Strongbow's side, and had given him 
hostages for their fidelity. Murtough Mac Mur- 
rough is styled lord of Okinselagh in the entry 
in the Irish Annals recording his death, which 
occurred in 1193, and Donnell Kavanagh was 
killed by two Irishmen in 1175. There is 
nothing to show that they were not faithful to 
the English to the last. 1 

It was probably after Strongbow had left Dublin 
Dublin upon the dispersal of Rory O' Conor's assaulted, 
army, and before the arrival of Henry II in 
Ireland (October 18), that Dublin was the 
object of two separate attacks. 2 The first was 
headed by Tiernan O'Rourke, and consisted of 
the men of Breffny and Uriel, and the second 
was an attempt to regain the town by Haskulf 
Mac Thorkil, the former Norse governor. The 

1 When, about a century later, in the accounts of the 
minister of Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk, we get a detailed 
picture of Anglo-Norman organization in this district, we 
find that fees were paid to the chief of the McMurroughs 
and to his brother, and that robes (the earl's livery) were 
given to them as to other officers of the earl. They were 
evidently left in possession of considerable tracts of land in 
North Wexford and Southern Carlow, and lived on good 
terms with the earl. 

2 For the time when the Norse attack took place see note 
at the close of this chapter. 


glory of successfully resisting both these attempts 
belonged primarily to Miles de Cogan, to whom 
Earl Richard had entrusted the custody of the 
city when he, with most of the leading Normans, 
(i)By departed. The attack by O'Rourke's army was 
O'Rourke. met by de Cogan outside the walls ' on the green 
of Ath-cliath ', when a number of chiefs were 
killed, including O'Rourke's son, royal heir 
(2) By {rigdamna) of Breffny. 1 Haskulf's attempt to 
recover his patrimony, which perhaps preceded 
this last, was a much more formidable affair, 
and is told in great detail and with evident local 
knowledge in the Song of Dermot. 2 Haskulf had 
collected a large fleet of sea-rovers from Norway 
and ' the islands ' (Orkneys and Hebrides, and 
the Isle of Man), and he had the assistance of 
a noted berserker, John ' the Wode ', or the Mad, 
said to be nephew of the King of Norway. 3 It is 
probable that Haskulf's expedition was originally 
planned to synchronize with 0' Conor's hosting, 
but, happily perhaps for the Norman invaders, 

1 Ann. Tigernach, Ann. Ulster, 1171, where the editor 
has wrongly punctuated the passage, the date ' 16th of 
the Kalends of November ' obviously referring to Henry's 
arrival. Giraldus dates this attack circa Kalendas Scptem- 
bris (p. 274). It is not mentioned in the Song. 

2 Song of Dermot, 11. 2255-492. Cf . Gir. Camb. v. 263-5 ; 
Ann. Tigernach, Ann. Ulster, 1171. 

3 Song of Dermot, 11. 2264-8 ; John (the Mad) from the 
islands of Ore, Ann. Ulster, 1171 ; ' duce Johanne agnomine 
the Wode, quod Latine sonat Insano vel Vehementi,' Gir. 
Camb., p. 264. 


he came too late. ' At the Steine ' they landed 
and encamped, preparatory to attacking the 
city. The Steine was the name of an open piece 
of land to the east of the city, extending south- 
wards from the Liffey. It was so called from 
a Menhir or Standing Stone, probably erected by 
the Northmen in days gone by at their landing- 
place. On part of this piece of land, where 
Trinity College now stands, stood the priory of 
All Hallows, founded by Dermot Mac Murrough. 
Miles de Cogan now made preparations to resist 
the attack. First we are told of an amusing Parley 
parley between him and Donnell Mac Gilla- GMamo- C 
mocholmog. The latter was petty king of a dis- cholm °g- 
trict close to Dublin on the south, and knew well 
what he had to expect if he opposed unsuccess- 
fully Haskulf's return. He had, indeed, joined 
Rory O'Conor's abortive hosting against the 
Normans in Dublin a little earlier in the sum- 
mer, but on the dispersal of the Irish forces he 
had made peace with Miles and had given him 
hostages. Probably Miles was not very confident 
of his fidelity, and preferred not to have him 
within the walls. Accordingly he said to him : ' I 
will return you your hostages on these conditions, 
that you stand aside and watch the coming 
battle, aiding neither us nor them, but if with 
God's help we discomfit these men, then that you 
and your force aid us to overthrow them ; while 
if we be . recreant, that you aid them with all 



your might in cutting us to pieces and destroying 
us.' This advice suited Gillamocholmog exactly, 
so he placed himself with his men outside the 
city, on the summit of the ' hogges ' or Howe 
overlooking the Steine. This was an artificial 
mound, the existence of which on Hoggen Green, 
a little to the south of the entrance to Trinity 
College, up to the year 1685 is well attested. 1 

John the Wode advanced with his men in 
well-ordered ranks towards the city. It was 
a very different army from Rory's undisciplined, 
ill-armed host. They were ' born warriors, in 
Danish fashion completely clad in iron ; some 
in long coats of mail, others with iron plates 
cunningly fastened to their tunics, and all bear- 
ing round shields painted red and rimmed with 
iron. Men with iron hearts as well as iron 
arms'. 2 We do not read that they had bows, 
but they carried formidable battle-axes. To 
meet such men Miles and his little garrison 
had need of all their courage and resource. 

The attack was delivered against the eastern 
gate of the city, called Saint Mary's Gate. Its 
site is well known. The church of St. Mary 
del Dam stood outside the walls close to it — so 
called from a mill-dam on a little stream, the 
Poddle, now built over. The gate was after- 
wards known as Damas Gate, and the street 

1 See the Scandinavian Kingdom of Dublin, by C. Halliday , 
pp. 162-6, 2 Gir. Camb., vol. v, p. 264. 


leading up to it Damas Street, now refined in 
pronunciation into Dame Street. It was the 
direct route from the Steine. While the Norse- 
men were advancing towards the eastern gate, 
Miles de Cogan secretly dispatched his brother 
Richard with a small force of thirty horsemen 
out of a gate on the opposite side of the town, 
directing him to make a detour and fall upon 
the camp of the enemy in the rear. At the same 
time he manned the battlemented wall with 
archers and men with darts to resist the attack. 
While the assault was going on, Richard de 
Cogan fell upon the camp unexpectedly, and 
John the Wode, hearing the noise and the 
shouting in his rear, turned back to succour his 
men. Then Miles made a sortie with 300 men, 
and took the enemy in the rear as they were 
engaged with his brother Richard. In vain 
did John the Wode perform prodigies of valour, 
lopping off with one blow of his mighty battle- 
axe the armoured leg of a horseman, and killing 
nine or ten of the English. Taken in front and 
rear at the same time, the Norsemen fled for their 
ships. Now was the time for Gillamocholmog 
to join in on the winning side. ' Up now, brave 
sirs ! ' he shouted to his men, ' Let us aid the 
rightful English ! Up now quickly. To good 
Richard and Miles we shall bring aid ! ' And 
thereupon the Irish, with javelins and darts, 
rushed upon the flying foe. Many were killed 


on the field, and many were drowned while 
endeavouring to reach their ships. John the 
Wode was slain, and Haskulf was taken prisoner. 
The latter, it is said, might have ransomed his 
life, had it not been for his reckless outburst 
before Miles in the justice-hall to which he had 
been brought. ' We came this time,' he cried, 
8 a small band, but it is only the beginning. If 
I live, we shall soon return in much greater num- 
bers.' This audacious speech cost him his head. 

NOTE TO CHAPTER VII, pp. 223 and 239. 


With regard to the time at which the Norse 
attack took place, the authorities conflict, 
Giraldus places it ' about Pentecost' (May 16), 
before Rory's siege (p. 263), while the Song 
(1. 2256) says it occurred while Strongbow ' was 
with his lord', i.e. about the middle of September. 
For reasons partly given in the notes to the Song, 
I incline to think the sequence there observed 
was the true one. The narrative in the Song 
for the period from Dermot's death to the landing 
of Henry is more continuous and much fuller in 
its details than that of Giraldus. It reads like 
the story of an eyewitness throughout, and wher- 
ever it can be tested it appears to be accurate. 
It follows Strongbow' s movements, and accounts 
for both his absence and that of Fitz Stephen 
from Dublin at the time of the Norse attack. 
Also the sequence there given harmonizes with 
the changed attitude of Gillamocholmog on the 
two occasions. Moreover, where actual docu- 
ments dated at the time are not available, a date 
fixed approximately by reference to another 
event is more likely to be correct than a precise 
date given by such a writer as Giraldus (with 
whom chronology was a weak point) many years 
after the event. Furthermore, the order pre- 
served in the Song seems to explain the long 
inactivity of Rory 0' Conor and his allies before 
Dublin. They must have been waiting for 

246 NOTE 

something before attempting a serious assault, 
and this ' something ' may well have been the 
arrival of Haskulf . It would be strange if, when 
seeking for assistance from Godred, King of Man, 
and the wikings of the islands, they had omitted 
to communicate with Haskulf, the dispossessed 
lord of Dublin, to whose aid they had come in 
the preceding autumn. But Haskulf may well 
have been late, and the intended combination 
upset by Strongbow's brilliant sortie. Thus 
the order of events as given in the Song seems 
to explain much that is hard to account for if 
we suppose that order reversed. On the other 
hand, it must be noted that in the Annals of 
Tigernach, followed by the Four Masters, the 
entry as to Haskulf's attack precedes that as to 
Rory's siege, but these entries are quite inde- 
pendent of each other, and entries in the annals 
do not always follow the chronological order. 
Thus, for example, in 1169, the Four Masters 
record the death of Dermot O'Melaghlin, King of 
Meath, and afterwards mention him as accom- 
panying 0' Conor's hosting into Okinselagh. 



Before the summer of 1171 was ended strong- 
Strongbow was master of the three principal the king. 
seaport towns of Ireland, namely, Dublin, ^J* 
Waterford, and Wexford, and partly by arms 
and partly by diplomacy had done much to 
strengthen his position as Der mot's successor in 
Leinster. He had successfully repelled all out- 
side attempts, whether Norse or Irish, to oust 
him from his position, and by the power and 
prestige of his arms, aided by the wisdom of his 
policy, he had won the acquiescence of the 
principal tribes of Leinster to his rule. He 
knew well, however, that there was another and 
a more formidable power with which he must 
reckon before he could hope to secure to himself 
the fruits of his conquest. It was in defiance 
of Henry's express orders that he had set sail 
a year previously from Milford Haven, and his 
lands at home had in consequence been taken 
from him by the king. He had been sorely 
hampered in his operations by Henry's embargo, 
which had effectually prevented him from getting 


adequate supplies and reinforcements in the 
spring of the year. He had then sent Raymond 
on a fruitless embassy to endeavour to gain the 
King's favour to his expedition, and on Ray- 
mond's return with dispiriting news, just before 
the great attempt to overwhelm the invaders 
in Dublin, he had dispatched his uncle, Hervey 
de Montmorency, on a second embassy with the 
same object. Hervey appears to have found 
Henry at Argentan, in the act of holding a 
council of his barons with reference to his pro- 
posed expedition to Ireland. This was in the 
month of July. Hervey offered on the part of 
the earl to surrender to the king the cities of 
Dublin and Waterford, and the other strong- 
holds which the earl held in right of his wife, and 
the king, we are told, promised on his doing so 
to restore to the earl his lands in England 
(Wales) and Normandy, to leave him in posses- 
sion of the rest of what he had acquired by his 
marriage, and to appoint him constable or 
seneschal of Ireland. 1 We may, however, doubt 
if the terms of the arrangement were quite so 
definitely fixed at this time. For when Hervey 
returned to Ireland, early in September, he came 
with the news that the king was on his way to 
Ireland with a large army, and, whatever the 
nature of his report may have been, he strongly 

1 Robert of Torigny, p. 252, where, however, the names 
of the ambassadors are not mentioned. 


urged the earl to cross the channel and meet the 
king. Accordingly the earl at once set sail, and 
found the king either at Newnham in Gloucester- 
shire, where he had already mustered a con- 
siderable army, 1 or at Pembroke. 

The time was indeed in many respects oppor- The time 

T*1 TV* T OT* 

tune for Henry to make his long meditated Henry's 
expedition to Ireland. If he were to claim the tj^ dl " 
benefit of Strongbow's conquests, to make 
Strongbow's proffered submission to him a 
reality, and to take advantage of the opening 
thus afforded to obtain the submission of the 
still independent Irish kings, now was the time 
for him to act. Moreover, an expedition to 
Ireland at this moment would gain him a respite 
from the meeting with the cardinal legates who 
had been dispatched by the Pope to deal with 
Henry's supposed complicity in the murder of 
Becket. Time would dull the edge of the horror 
which all Christendom felt on hearing of the arch- 
bishop's tragic end, and Henry, as the acknow- 

1 Gir. Camb., vol. v, p. 273. According to the Song 
(1. 2230) the earl found Henry at Pembroke, and this may 
be right. According to the Brut, Henry entered Wales 
soon after September 8, and reached Pembroke on the 21st, 
where, or at St. Davids, he stayed until October 16, when he 
sailed for Ireland : cf . Eyton's Itin. The later date for the 
meeting would seem to suit Strongbow's movements as 
recorded in the Song best. On the other hand, Gerald 
is precise in his mention of the place, which, at any .rate, 
was probably the muster-ground of the feudal host. 


ledged lord of Ireland, would be in a better 
position to make terms with the Pope. True, he 
could not at this moment enter Ireland mas- 
querading as a sort of crusader, and, with the 
blessing of the present occupant of the Holy See, 
professing to reform the moral iniquities of that 
country. But he might do something there to 
bring about a closer conformity with the Church 
of Rome, and the papal blessing and sanction 
would be sure to follow. Accordingly, in July 
he held a council of the barons at Argentan, and 
obtained their approval of his Irish expedition. 1 
Early in August he landed at Portsmouth, 
having left orders with the bailiffs of the ports 
on both sides of the channel to prevent any 
papal envoys from following him. 2 Then he 
made preparations for the assembling of a fleet 
of transports at Milf ord Haven, and for a muster 
of the chivalry of England somewhere near the 
Welsh border, probably at Newnham in Glouces- 
tershire, where, according to Gerald de Barry, 
Strongbow is said to have met him. 
strong- According to Gerald, too, it was only after 
renders much altercation, and by the address of Hervey, 
maritime that ^ ne r °yal * re was appeased : the earl under- 
towns to taking to surrender to the king Dublin and the 
neighbouring cantreds, the other maritime towns, 
and all castles, and to renew the oath of fealty 

1 Robert of Torigny, 1171. 

2 Gesta Hen., vol. i, p. 24. 


for the rest of his conquests. These terms do 
not appear to differ essentially from those offered 
on the earl's behalf at the council of Argentan. 
They included, however, the surrender not only 
of the towns of Dublin, Waterford, and Wexford, 
but also of the lands now comprised in the county 
of Dublin and the littoral as far south as 
Arklow. So far as appears, there were no stone- 
built castles to surrender, except perhaps a 
Norse stronghold at Wicklow. 1 By these terms, 
as one writer notices, 2 Strongbow was indeed 
giving up the more valuable portions of his 
conquest ; but he was left in possession of an 
extensive fief, now to be held of the king ; while 
if Henry was to exercise any control over the 
adventurers, and to extend his domination, 
as he hoped, over the unconquered parts of 
Ireland, it was absolutely essential for him 
to hold the seaport towns in his own hands. 
This important question having been thus 
satisfactorily settled, Henry pursued the coast 

1 The Castellum Wikingelonense is spoken of as already 
in existence in the summer of 1173, when it, together with the 
town of Wexford, was granted by Henry to Earl Richard : 
Gir. Camb., vol. v, p. 298. It was perhaps a Scandinavian 
stronghold occupying the site of the Black Castle at Wicklow, 
on a rocky point jutting out into the sea immediately south 
of the harbour. See Eng. Hist. Rev. 1907, p. 250. The 
castle, however, is not mentioned in Strongbow's grant of 
Wicklow to Maurice Fitz Gerald : Gormanston Register, 
f . 190. 2 William of Newburgh, vol. i, p. 168. 


road which led through South Wales towards 
St. Davids. 
Henry Six years had elapsed since Henry's last expe- 

favourto dition into Wales, when he was beaten back 
ys * from the rocks of Berwyn by the ceaseless rain, 
and Rhys, the Prince of South Wales, was now 
much perturbed at his approach. Probably he 
had been summoned to the muster-ground at 
Newnham ; at any rate he hastened to meet 
Henry, whose goodwill he was anxious to secure. 1 
Ireland, however, was now Henry's objective, 
and he had no intention of frittering away his 
strength in Wales. Moreover, it was important 
for him to secure the peaceful passage of his 
army along the route to Pembroke, and Rhys 
was easily able to purchase his goodwill by a 
promise of 300 horses and 4,000 cows, and an 
undertaking to give him hostages for good be- 
haviour. Ultimately, indeed, Henry took only 
36 horses, saying that ' it was not for want of 
them they were accepted, but to express his 
thanks to Rhys ', and he gave him time as to the 
delivery of hostages and the rest of the promised 
tribute. Rhys had indeed reason to view with 
satisfaction Henry's expedition. He had found 
that the previous Irish expeditions had relieved 

1 According to the Brut y Tywys., p. 211, Henry, giving 
out that he would go and subdue Ireland, ' convoked to him 
all the princes of England and Wales.' Accordingly Rhys 
went to meet him about September 8. 


him of the presence of several of his most 
dangerous rivals and of their supporters, thus 
enabling him to consolidate his power. He had 
just built ' a castle of stone and mortar ' at 
Aberteivi (Cardigan), to replace the Norman 
structure which he had demolished when he 
captured its constable, Robert Fitz Stephen, as 
already mentioned. He also held Cilgerran 
Castle, perched on a rock hard by. And now 
Henry, so far from making him restore these 
places to the de Clares, regularized his position 
by giving him, according to the Welsh Chronicle, 
the whole district of Ceredigion, now Cardigan- 
shire, the vale of the Towy, and other debatable 
lands. 1 While showing this favour to the native 
prince, Henry, with real or assumed anger, 
threatened the Norman barons of South Wales 
for having given Earl Richard a passage through 
to Ireland, but, except that he put royal garri- 
sons into their castles, nothing came of his 
threats. 2 As we shall see, it was Henry's cue 
throughout this expedition to appear as the 
friend of the natives, Welsh and Irish, and the 
stern represser of the Anglo-Norman march- 

1 Brut y Tywys. 1171, where a detailed account is given 
of Henry's movements in Wales and of his interviews 
with Rhys. 

2 Gir. Camb., vol. v, p. 274. The account here given of 
Henry's anger towards the proceres of South Wales seems to 
confirm the statement of William of Newburgh that Henry 
had expressly forbidden Strongbow's expedition. 


lords ; his real object being to secure the control 
of the Crown over both. 

Henry reached Pembroke about September 21. 
After a few days he went on the usual pilgrimage 
to St. Davids, and made an offering at the shrine. 
Here, attended by Earl Richard and some others, 
he was informally entertained on Michaelmas Day 
by the bishop, David Fitz Gerald. Shortly after 
dinner he mounted horse and returned to Pem- 
broke in heavy rain. 1 The distance from St. Davids 
to Pembroke is sixteen miles over a very hilly coun- 
try. We cannot wonder that Henry's suite found 
his extraordinary activity irksome at times. 2 
A deputa- Henry was detained at Pembroke for seven- 
Wexford. teen days longer by unfavourable winds. While 
he was there a deputation came from the men 
of Wexford to announce to him that they had 
captured 'his felon', Robert Fitz Stephen, who 
had often, they said, waged war against him in 
Wales and in England, and had lately come to 
Ireland to destroy their country. They had 
put him in prison, and would give him up to the 
king to deal with according to his pleasure. 
Evidently they were anxious to curry favour 
with the powerful king now approaching their 

1 Brut y Tywys., p. 215. To avoid an excess of expense 
to the bishop, Henry declined a formal banquet, and the 
company, we are told, ' dined standing/ 

2 For the view taken by Henry's clerks of his restless 
activity see Norgate's Angevin Kings, vol, i, p. 411. 


shores. Henry assured them of his favour, 
provided they surrendered their prisoner to him 
to deal with. His anger against Fitz Stephen 
was assumed, we are told, to ensure the prisoner's 
safe delivery into his hands, 1 but Henry was 
also anxious to impress the Irish with the idea 
that he was coming as their friend and protector. 

On October 16, all being ready and the wind Henry 
at last favourable, the king embarked ' at the Ireland, 
Cross ' below Pembroke, 2 and landed next day jJJl 
at Crook, near Waterford, the exact landing- 

1 Song of Dermot, 11. 2497-578. Perhaps this was the 
embassy alluded to by Gervase of Canterbury (vol. i, p. 235). 
He says that the Irish sent ambassadors to Henry in 1171, 
to ask him to take over the lordship of the country and 
relieve them from the aggression of Earl Richard : ' ut in 
Hiberniam veniret, eisque contra importunitatem Ricardi 
comitis succurreret, sibi que dominium Hiberniae assumeret.' 
The deputation of the traiterez duzze de Weyseford seems to 
have been distinct from the embassy composed of Murtough 
MacMurrough and the burgesses of Wexford, mentioned 
in the account of the Sheriff of Winchester : Pipe Roll, 
19 Hen. II (1172-3). They appear to have gone as far as 
Winchester, where they were entertained at the king's 
expense, and presented with six robes, costing the consider- 
able sum of £10 145. lid. 

2 Song of Dermot, 1. 2590 : a la Croiz en mer entra. This 
appears to have been the usual place of embarkation. 
John, too, in 1210, embarked apud Crucem super mare, 
subtus Penbroc : Rot. de Prest., 12 John, pp. 177, 246. The 
place is probably now occupied by Pembroke Dock on 
Milford Haven. It is not mentioned in other accounts of 
Henry's embarkation, and is thus an indication of the 
independence and accuracy of the Song. 


place being probably the ferry-point now called 
Passage, about a mile from the old church of 
Crook, 1 and five miles from Waterford. His 
army consisted of five hundred knights and their 
esquires, and a large body of archers, about 4,000 
in all. 2 A fleet of 400 ships was required to trans- 
port the men with their horses, arms, and pro- 
visions. 3 Among the knights who accompanied 
Henry were William FitzAudelin, the king's 
dapifer, Humphrey de Bohun, his constable, 
Hugh de Lacy, Robert Fitz Bernard, sheriff of 
Devon, and Bertram de Verdun. 4 

1 Gesta Hen., vol. i, p. 25 ; Rog. Howden, vol. ii, p. 29 : 
apud Crock. This is the Irish Cruach, now represented by 
Crook, a parish which adjoins the landing-place at Passage. 

2 Giraldus says ' cum militibus quasi quingentis, arcariis 
{v. I. satellitibus equestribus) quoque et sagittariis multis.' 
The Song says quatre cent chevalers, and gives the total, 
quatre mil Engleis. 

3 Gesta Hen., vol. i, p. 25 ; Rog. Howden, vol. ii. 

4 This list is given in the Song of Dermot, 11. 2601-10. 
According to the Gesta Hen. and Rog. Howden (ut supra) t 
William Fitz Audelin and Robert Fitz Bernard had been 
sent to Ireland some time before and met Henry at Water- 
ford. But we find both of these individuals witnessing 
a charter at Pembroke on October 7, 1171 (Round's Com- 
mune of London, p. 152), so that at most they can only 
have preceded the king by a few days. To the above list 
we may add from the witnesses to Henry's Dublin charter, 
William de Braose, Reginald de Curtenay, Hugh de Gunder- 
ville, Randulph de Glanville, Hugh de Cressy , and Reginald de 
Pavilly ; and from Henry's charter to Hugh de Lacy, William 
de Albiny, William de Stoteville, Ralph de Verdun, William 
de Gerpunville (the king's falconer), and Robert de Ruilly. 


Henry's army seems to have consisted almost The army 
entirely of English tenants in chivalry. Many supplies, 
of the tenants in chief, however, sent money 
instead of men for the Irish expedition, and 
there are many entries in the Pipe Rolls concern- 
ing the scutage, at the rate of £1 per knight's fee, 
of those who neither went to Ireland nor sent 
men or money there. The Pipe Rolls show 
further how this army was supplied during the 
six months of Henry's stay in Ireland. From 
almost all parts of England large quantities of 
wheat, oats, beans, cheeses, and hogs were for- 
warded, with canvas to cover the corn, and 
hand-mills to grind it. A moderate sum was 
spent on wine, part of which was bought in 
Waterf ord, and a few horses were sent, the feudal 
tenants of course supplying their own mounts. 
Engineering tools were also brought over in large 
quantities, viz. axes, spades, shovels, pickaxes, 
planks, nails, and a few castella lignea or ready- 
made wooden towers. For the king's own use 
the royal tent was conveyed to Ireland, also 
wearing apparel, skins, silks, cloths, 1,000 lb. of 
wax for his charters and other documents, and 

1 In the Pipe Roll, 18 Hen. II, mention is made of only 
163 coterelli or mercenary troops in the king's service in 
Ireland, for whom garments were purchased. The word 
coterelli is rendered ' cottagers ' by Sweetman, and this 
rendering led Professor G. T. Stokes to remark that Henry 
' did not despise measures for the social and material im- 
provement of the people ' I 

1226 R 


spices and electuaries for Joseph, his doctor. 

Most of these supplies were shipped from Bristol. 

Henry's Though at the head of an imposing force, 

objects. T . . 

Henry did not come with the intention of 
forcibly imposing his rule over the Irish. The 
late period of the year would alone indicate 
that no extensive campaign was meditated. He 
came to regulate the conquests that had already 
been made by his subjects, to secure the 
supremacy of the Crown over them and their 
lands, and to receive the submission of as many 
of the remaining independent Irish princes as 
could be induced to come in. 
Strong- O n the day following his landing in Ireland, 

bow does . 

homage being St. Luke's Day, Henry entered Waterford, 
Leinster. an( l there Strongbow formally surrendered the 
city to him and did homage for Leinster, which 
the king granted to him in fee. 1 The deed 
evidencing this grant is not forthcoming, but if 
we may judge from the copies of the grant of 
Meath to Hugh de Lacy, executed a few months 
later, it was made without any express reserva- 
tions and was deemed at the time to confer 
cognizance of all pleas. In accordance with the 
terms arranged at Newnham, the lands granted 
did not include Dublin, nor the adjacent terri- 
tory, nor the littoral as far south as Arklow, 
nor the town of Wexford. These lands, together 
with Waterford, were reserved by the king, and 
1 Song of Dermot, 11. 2613-22. 


formed the original demesne of the Crown in 
Ireland. The rest of Leinster (excluding, of 
course, the 'kingdom of Meath'), probably 
defined ' as Dermot Mac Murrough held it ', was 
to be held of the king and his heirs by the 
service of 100 knights. Henceforth Strongbow 
and his heirs were to hold the lordship of Leinster 
not on any fictitious Irish title, but as tenants-in- 
chief of the English Crown. 

While Henry was staying at Waterford, the Fitz 
men of Wexford, in accordance with their under- im- 
taking, delivered up to him their prisoner, Robert pnsone ■ 
Fitz Stephen. With an assumption of anger, 
designed to conciliate the Irish, and show that he 
meant to exercise his authority over the ' first 
conquerors ', and hold them in check, Henry 
soundly upbraided Fitz Stephen for his unau- 
thorized attack on Ireland, and caused him to be 
chained to another prisoner, and to be incar- 
cerated in Reginald's Tower. 1 

And now, without delay, began the submission Mac 
of the Irish kings. Dermot Mac Car thy, King submits. 
of Desmond, came of his own accord to Henry 
at Waterford, took the oath of fealty, did 
homage, gave hostages, and agreed to pay tri- 
bute for his kingdom. 2 

1 Gir. Camb., vol. v, p. 277. 

2 Ibid. The Gesta Hen. and Roger of Howden speak 
of the Irish kings (except the King of Connaught) and 
of all the bishops and archbishops as submitting and 



Henry Henry then advanced to Lismore. His object 
Lismore. was doubtless to have an interview with Christian 
O'Conarchy, legate of the Pope, and at this 
time Bishop of Lismore. Christian had been 
a monk at the Cistercian monastery of Clairvaux, 
under St. Bernard, and in 1142 had been sent 
by him to Ireland as first abbot of Mellifont. 1 
He had thus received a French training, and had 
been imbued from his youth with the reform- 
ing zeal of St. Bernard and St. Malachi. His 
position and training therefore marked him out 
as president of the council of clergy which shortly 
afterwards met at Cashel, and it was manifestly 
to arrange for this council that Henry made this 
detour into Munster. He was anxious to secure 
the support of the clergy to his action in Ireland, 
and by his efforts to improve their status and 
reform the Church he hoped to gain both their 
goodwill and that of Rome. He stayed for 
two days at Lismore, and, probably by arrange- 
ment with the bishop, selected a site for a castle 

swearing fealty to Henry while still at Waterford, but it is 
far more probable, as stated by Giraldus, that the kings 
severally submitted at different places on Henry's route, 
while most of the prelates can hardly have signified their 
submission before the meeting of the council of Cashel. 
In the Pipe Roll, 19 Hen. II, p. 51 (Winchester) is an entry 
of £6 for delivering the son of the King of Cork as a hostage, 
and also items for his corrody and that of Murchardus and 
the burgesses of Wexford. 
1 Ware's Bishops. 


there, but the actual erection of it was postponed. 1 
It was afterwards built by his son John in 1185. 
From Lismore Henry went on to Cashel, the And to 
seat of the Munster archbishopric, where in all 
probability he had an interview with Archbishop 
Donnell O'Huallaghan, respecting the proposed 
council, and arranged for its meeting at the 
archiepiscopal city. Soon afterwards, on Novem- 
ber 6, 2 he sent Nicholas, his chaplain, and Ralph, 
Archdeacon of Llandaff, to summon the Irish 
bishops to the council. 

On the morrow of Henry's arrival at Cashel, O'Brien 
Donnell O'Brien, King of Thomond, came to 
meet him on the banks of the Suir, probably 
at the ford of Golden, and submitted to him in 
the same way as Dermot Mac Carthy had done. 
As part of the arrangement with these kings, 
Henry sent constables and officers of his own to 
Cork and Limerick, the chief towns of Desmond 
and Thomond respectively. Other princes of the 

1 Song of Dermot, 11. 2667-72. There is a typical mote 
and wedge-shaped bailey about a mile east of Lismore. 
It is probable that this was the site of John's castellum. 
See Eng. Hist. Review, 1907, p. 456. It is noteworthy 
that in going from Lismore to Cashel Henry may have 
crossed the Suir by the ford at Ardfinnan, and we are 
expressly told that he returned to Waterford by Tibraccia 
(Tibberaghny). It was at these three places, Lismore, 
Ardfinnan, and Tibberaghny, that John built castles in 1185. 
The sites had been probably selected by Henry. 

2 This date is given in Gesta Hen., vol. i, p. 28. 

3 In the above account of Henry's movements I have 


south of Ireland followed suit, including Don- 
nell Mac Gillapatrick of Ossory and Melaghlin 
O'Phelan of the Decies. Henry then returned 
to Waterford by the left bank of the Suir, passing 
Tibberaghny on the way, a place where his son 
erected another castle in 1185. 1 
Fitz On his return to Waterford, Henry released 

released. Robert Fitz Stephen, as his imprisonment had 
sufficiently served its purpose. At the same 
time, he deprived him of Wexford and the 
adjoining territory, which had been given to him 
by Dermot Mac Murrough, and so far as appears 
it was not until 1177 that Fitz Stephen was 
rewarded by a grant of lands in Ireland. The 
king evidently still viewed the first conquerors 
with suspicion. The Song of Dermot indeed 
does not mention Fitz Stephen's imprisonment 
by the king, but in a passage similar to that 
already referred to in the case of Maurice de 
Prendergast, 2 gives us an interesting glimpse of 

followed Giraldus (pp. 276-8). According to the Song of 
Dermot, which is here less circumstantial than usual, 
Henry went to Dublin from Waterford, and thence to 
Cashel and Lismore ; then he marched about Leinster 
and returned to Dublin (11. 2649-95). The Gesta Henrici 
and Roger of Howden do not expressly mention the visit 
to Lismore and Cashel, but speak of the preparations for the 
synod as taking place while Henry was at Waterford, and state 
that he arrived in Dublin at Martinmas (November 11). 

1 The site of John's Castrum apud Tibracciam (Tibber- 
aghny) is also marked by a mote : Eng. Hist. Review, 
1907, p. 252. 2 Supra, p. 237. 


the legal procedure of the time. The lords of 
Wexford, it says, delivered up their prisoner to 
the king in the presence of his barons (i. e. in full 
court) and the king ' received the body ', and in 
the presence of the men of Wexford formally 
accused him of the contempt he had committed 
(in invading Ireland without permission). Then 
Fitz Stephen 'folded his glove', and offered it 
to the king as a pledge that he would willingly 
give redress in the king's court according to the 
judgement of his peers, and thereupon his friends, 
French, Flemings, and Normans, went bail for 
him. 1 

Leaving Robert Fitz Bernard with a con- Henry 
siderable garrison at Waterford, Henry, on Dublin. 
November l, 2 set out for Dublin by way of 

1 Song of Dermot, 11. 2627-48 (where in 1. 2646 we should 
probably restore par Vesgart, * decision, judgement,' for par 
la garde). The procedure was that followed even a century 
later in Courts Baron, where the formula ran as follows : 
' He shall wage his law with his folded glove (de sun guard 
plyee) and shall deliver it into the hand of the other, and 
then take his glove back and find pledge for his law ' 
(Selden Soc. Publ., iv. 17, quoted in this connexion by Mr. 
Round, Commune of London, p. 153). The folded glove, 
according to Prof. Maitland, typified the chattel of value 
which in very old times was the vadium, wed, or gage con- 
stituting the contract, but was now supplanted by a contract 
with sureties, who had become the real security for the 
party's appearance in court. 

2 Rog. Howden (vol. ii, p. 30) says that Henry stayed at 
Waterford for fifteen days, i. e. to November 1, but this must 
be taken to include his visit to Lismore and Cashel. 


Ossory. Unfortunately, we have no details of 
his journey. He arrived at Dublin on the feast 
of St. Martin (November 11). Either on the 
way, or when at Dublin, Henry received the 
submission of all the principal Leinster chieftains. 
Further Among those specifically mentioned were Faelan 
sions. Mac Faelain, King of Offelan or Northern Kildare ; 
O' Toole, King of Omurethy or Southern Kildare ; 
and Donnell Mac Gillamocholmog, whose terri- 
tory lay in the vale of Dublin. Some of the 
northern chieftains also gave in their submission, 
such as Murrough 0' Carroll, King of Uriel, and, 
most important of all, Dermot's old enemy, 
Tiernan O'Rourke, King of Breffny and part of 
O'Conor's Meath. 1 As to the attitude of Rory 0' Conor, 
it is not at first sight easy to reconcile the 
authorities. According to Gerald de Barry, 
Rory came to the Shannon, probably at Athlone, 
to meet the king's messengers, Hugh de Lacy 
and William Fitz Audelin, and made his sub- 
mission to them in the same way as Donnell 
O'Brien had done to Henry. According to other 
English authorities, Rory held aloof, claiming 
' that the whole of Ireland was rightly his, and 
that all the other kings of the land ought to be 
placed under his authority '. 2 The older Irish 
annals, while stating that Henry received the 

1 Gir. Camb., vol. v, p. 278. R. de Diceto, vol. i, p. 348, 
where O'Rourke is called ' monoculus ' ; cf. Ann. Tig. 1148. 

2 Gervase Cant., vol. i, p. 235. Gesta Hen., vol. i, p. 25. 

• fy 


pledges of Munster, Leinster, Breffny, Uriel, and 
Uladh or Eastern Ulster, say nothing about 
Connaught. 1 Probably Rory, though anxious to 
obtain the king's peace, and willing to acknow- 
ledge Henry as overlord, was not satisfied to be 
placed on a par with the other kings who had 
recently submitted to him as ard-ri. He cer- 
tainly did not do personal homage to Henry, or 
give him hostages, or ' come into his house ', so 
that he cannot be said to have fully submitted 
to him in accordance either with English or with 
Irish procedure. And Henry took no steps to 
enforce his submission. To make a campaign 
against the ard-ri would not have suited the 
role which Henry desired to assume — the role 
of one whom the Irish had voluntarily accepted 
as their lord, who had come to protect them 
from the violence of the Anglo-Norman adven- 
turers, to reform their Church, and bring order 
into their country. Besides, the wet season of 
the year and the difficult nature of the country 
would make such a campaign hazardous. At 
any rate, nothing was done to regulate Rory's 
position until four years later, when, by the 
Treaty of Windsor, as we shall see, a short- 
lived arrangement was made on the basis 
of Rory's overlordship of the other Irish 

1 Ann. Ulster, Ann. Loch Ce, Ann. Tigernach, 1171. The 
Four Masters characteristically omit all mention of the 
submission of the Irish to Henry. 

***** ?>, 




kings outside the area of Anglo-Norman domi- 
The Thus it appears that of all the principal tribe- 

chieftains groups of Ireland the Cinel Owen and the Cinel 
aloof. Connell had alone shown no disposition to accept 
Henry as their overlord. Since the death of 
Murtough O'Loughlin, in 1166, no successor to 
his power had arisen in the north. According 
to the Four Masters, in 1167 Rory O'Conor, pur- 
suing his usual policy, had divided Tirowen 
between Niall O'Loughlin and Aedh O'Neill, 1 
but the division was not long observed. In 1169 
Conor O'Loughlin, Murtough's son, assumed the 
kingship of the Cinel Owen, but was killed next 
year in the course of a blood-feud with a subor- 
dinate sept. 2 Niall O'Loughlin now assumed the 
kingship, 3 and appears to have been King of the 
Cinel Owen when Henry arrived in Ireland, but 
his authority was disputed by both the Ulidians 
and the Cinel Connell. In 1171 the Cinel Owen 
were fighting with the former, and in 1172 they 
were defeated by the latter, ' and great slaughter 
was put upon them.' 4 These northern tribes 
were too busy settling their own disputes to pay 
any attention to what was going on in the rest of 

1 Four Masters, 1167. According to the Annals of Ulster 
only ' some of the Cinel Owen ' submitted to Rory. 

2 Ann. Ulster, Ann. Loch Ce, 1170. 

3 Ann. Tigernach, 1170. He was slain in 1176. 

4 Ann. Ulster, Ann. Loch Ce, 1171, 1172. 


Ireland, with which, indeed — except at intervals 
under Donnell and Murtough O'Loughlin — they 
had seldom concerned themselves since the days 
of Brian Borumha. 

At Dublin Henry did not shut himself up in Henry's 
the fortress, as one in an enemy's country, but Dublin? 
had a palace built for his use outside the walls, 
near the church of St. Andrew. It was a won- 
derful structure of wattle-work, erected at his 
request in the native style by the kings and great 
men who had submitted to him. 1 Evidently 
Henry was trying to please his new vassals by 
showing an appreciation of native craftsmanship, 
and living freely in their midst. Here he stayed, 
or here, at any rate, were his head-quarters, 
from the feast of St. Martin to the Purification 
(November 11 to February 2), and here, sur- 
rounded by his vassals, English and Irish, he 
kept Christmas with the usual festivities. Gerald 
expressly tells us that many Irish princes came 
to visit the king's court and marvelled at the 

1 'Ibi construi fecit juxta ecclesiam Sancti Andreae 
apostoli extra civitatem Duvelinae ad opus suum palatium 
regium, quod reges et ditiores terrae mirifice construxerunt 
ad opus ejus per praeceptum ipsius de virgis, ad morem 
patriae illius ' : Gesta Hen., vol. i, p. 28. ' Palatium regium 
miro artificio de virgis levigatis ad modum patriae illius 
constructum ' : Rog. Howden, vol. ii, p. 32. 

The old church of St. Andrew, as shown on Speed's map 
(1610), was just outside Damas Gate on the south side of 
Damas Street. 


splendid abundance of his table and the courtly 
attention of his household, and learned to feast 
on cranes' flesh, a food they had hitherto viewed 
with abhorrence. 
The first We have one authentic memorial of Henry's 
Charter, stay in Dublin, namely, the first Dublin charter, 
the original of which, executed in Dublin in the 
winter of 1171-2, is still preserved in the muni- 
cipal archives. By this charter Henry granted to 
his men of Bristol (Bristowa) his city of Dublin 
(Duvelina), to be inhabited, together with all the 
liberties and free customs which they had at 
Bristol and throughout his entire land. 1 By 
a subsequent charter, executed probably in 1174 
at St. Lo, in Normandy, Henry granted to ' his 
burgesses of Dublin ' (i. e. whether men of Bristol 
or not) freedom from various tolls and duties 
throughout his lands. In 1185 John confirmed 
to his men of Bristol his father's grant, and in 
1192 gave to the citizens of Dublin an extended 
charter similar to that granted by him to Bristol 
in 1188. 2 In the next century it became not 
uncommon for the great Anglo-Norman lords to 
grant ' the law of Bristol ' to the more promising 

1 Reproduced in Facsimiles of Nat. MSS. of Ireland, and 
Cal. Anc. Records of Dublin (J. T. Gilbert), frontispiece. As 
late as the year 1887 this charter was produced as evidence 
in a court of law. 

2 For all these charters and others see Hist, and Mun. 
Documents of Ireland (J. T. Gilbert). John's 1192 charter 
has also been preserved. 


vills that sprang up in their lands as the first 
step to an organized municipality. The little 
piece of parchment on which Henry's first charter 
to Dublin is written measures only 6 \ x 5 inches, 
but it represents the source and origin of all 
municipal life in Ireland, and is surely a treasure 
which the municipality of Dublin may be proud 
to hold. 

Henry, in fact, found Dublin largely depleted 
of inhabitants. There were indeed many sur- 
vivors of the old Norse population, but the 
capital city of the new regime could not be 
entrusted to them, and accordingly they appear 
to have been settled on the north side of the 
river, in a suburb near St. Mary's Abbey, 
which came to be known as the Villa Ostman- 
norum, Ostmaneby, or (corruptly) Oxman- 
town. 1 It was clearly necessary to replenish 
the city, and Henry's selection of Bristol, the 
third city in England, as the source for the new 
colony, probably contributed to the commercial 
success of Anglo-Norman Dublin. The mer- 
chants of Bristol were no strangers to Dublin, 
and from no town in England could Dublin be so 
easily reached. Bristol had aided Henry's ex- 
pedition, and it was from the port of Bristol 
that supplies were sent to his army. Whether 
any considerable number of Bristol men actually 

1 So in Waterford, Cork, and Limerick there was an 
Ostmen's quarter. 


settled in Dublin at this time may, however, be 
The first doubted. A roll of some 1,600 names of Dublin 
roii. citizens, referred to about the close of the twelfth 

century, contains only fourteen names with the 
designation de Bristollo appended. 1 This in itself 
is not decisive, as many of the names have 
no local designation appended, but only a 
patronymic, or frequently a ' to-name ' taken 
from their trade (about 200) or from some other 
circumstance, and some of these may have 
belonged to Bristol. Besides, the list is defective 
at the commencement, and it is impossible to 
say how many membranes have been lost ; but 
if the men of Bristol took advantage of Henry's 
charter in large numbers, it is at the commence- 
ment of the roll — for it appears to be chrono- 
logically arranged — that we should expect to 
find their names. However this may have been, 

1 Hist, and Mun. Documents of Ireland, pp. 3-^48. Many 
of the names are to be met with elsewhere. Thus I have 
noted {inter alios) : Robert of Castle Cnoc (p. 20), Richard 
Gillemichel (p. 37), Elyas f . Norman (p. 39),William Blundel 
(p. 41), Walter de Stakepol (p. 44), in the Register of St. 
Thomas's Abbey, Dublin ; William of Abbedestuna ( = Ab- 
boteston) (p. 16), Norman Clater (p. 25), William Wiking 
(p. 44), Robert the iremongere (= le Hyrnmangere) (p. 41), 
Alexander de Wa villa (p. 47), in the Chartulary of St. Mary's 
Abbey, Dublin ; and Godfry de Wintone (p. 8), Rodbertus de 
Hichtrichburig (= Hehtredebiri) (p. 12), Johannes Hiber- 
niensis (p. 13), Thomas de Blakemor (p. 23), and some going 
back to the time of Archbishop Laurence (1177), Robert de 
Deri (p. 16), Peter, brother of William (same page), in the 
Calendar of Christ Church Deeds ; see nos. 468 (f ), 472, 476. 


the list seems to show that at the period it covers 
Dublin was inhabited by persons who came from 
many towns in England and Wales, and from 
a few towns in France and Scotland. Thus 
37 are described as of Cardiff, 29 of Worcester, 
28 of Gloucester, 27 of London, 14 of Bristol, 
13 of Winchester and Bedford, 12 of Northamp- 
ton, 11 of Exeter and Haverford, 10 of Hereford, 
8 of Cardigan and Ludlow, 7 of Warwick, 6 of 
Lichfield, Chester, Striguil, Taunton, Bodmin, 
Coventry, and Oxford, and smaller numbers of 
many other towns. 1 About 14 others are de- 
scribed as Cornishmen, 11 as Flemings, about 6 
as Francigenae, and only one as Hiberniensis. 
There is a slight sprinkling of Irish and of 
Scandinavian names in the list, and 56 are 
described as of various Anglo-Norman towns in 

It must not, however, be assumed that all 
these persons came directly to Dublin from the 
towns whose names they bore. Certainly Dublin 
citizens bore these and other local designations 

1 These included Leicester, Marlborough, Shrewsbury, 
York, Pembroke, St. Briavel, St. Austin's, Cirencester, 
Brecon, Southampton, Leominster, Lancaster, Furness, 
Dunstable, Caermarthen, Glasgow, Dumfries, Edinburgh, 
Carlisle, Stafford, Malmesbury, Monmouth, Wigmore, Swan- 
sea, Newport, Banbury, Reading, Cambridge (Grantebruche), 
Dorchester, Redcliff, Wells, Bath, Ripon, Tewkesbury, 
Lewes, WaUingford, and St. Albans ; and in France, 
Toulouse, La Rochelle, Falaise, and Dinant. 


for many generations, and their progenitors may 
have been known by them in Bristol before 
migrating to Dublin. But making allowances 
for such cases, it seems pretty clear that the early 
citizens of Dublin drew their origin from very 
many towns besides Bristol. On the other hand, 
that the connexion with Bristol is not to be 
estimated by the fourteen names in this list is 
abundantly proved by the records of the thir- 
teenth century, which show Bristol men holding 
property and rising to distinction in Dublin. 1 
Indeed, Henry himself while in Dublin, perhaps 
before the date of his charter, made a special 
Grant to grant of a piece of land and houses outside the 
of Bristol, eastern gate of Dublin, between it and the bridge 
[over the Poddle] leading to St. Andrew's Church, 
to Aelelmus, brother of Hamund of Bristol, 2 

1 The Chartulary of St. Mary's Abbey, Dublin, indicates 
that many Bristol men held property in Dublin. See, for 
instance, the grants from Roger Cordewaner (vol. i, pp. 214- 
16), who at one time was Mayor of Bristol (Reg. St. Thomas, 
p. 18), and William, his brother. Ralph of Bristol was 
Treasurer of St. Patrick's, Dublin, in 1219, and Bishop of 
Kildare in 1223-32. Geoffry of Bristol was Canon of St. 
Patrick's in 1223. William of Bristol was Mayor of Dublin 
1287-8 ; Chartulary of St. Mary's, vol. i, p. 493. Robert 
of Bristol was Provost of Dublin in 1235; Cal. Christ 
Church Deeds, no. 48. 

2 Chart. St. Mary's, Dublin, vol. i, p. 140, no. 118 (g). 
Adelelm, brother of Hamo, witnessed a Dublin deed circa 
1190 : Cal. Christ Church Deeds, no. 472 ; cf. 468 a. His 
brother Roger also appears to have settled in Dublin : ibid., 
no. 468 d ; Chart. St. Mary's, vol. i, p. 173. This piece of land 


or Adelelmus Dives, ' Aldelm the Rich,' as he is 
called in a later document. 

In the almost complete dearth of surviving 
records, Henry's charter of Dublin to the men 
of Bristol and his special grant to Aldelm the 
Rich stand almost alone as attested examples 
of Henry's dealings while in Ireland with the 
lands he had reserved to the crown. We have, 
indeed, ample evidence that he confirmed to the 
priory of All Hallows, founded and endowed by To All 
Dermot Mac Murrough, the lands which it held Prio^JT 
before his coming to Ireland, 1 and he may have 
confirmed their lands to other religious houses, 
as he certainly did somewhat later. 2 It appears 

must have been quite close to, if it did not comprise, the site 
of the palace erected for Henry. Aldelm rented part of it 
to William Dubeldai (ibid., p. 10), who built on the Poddle 
(by licence from John in 1185 : ibid., p. 223) a mill often 
mentioned in later documents. Elicia, daughter of Aldelm, 
and Scholastica, his grand-daughter, granted the plot and 
the rent of the mill to the monks of St. Mary's Abbey (ibid., 
pp. 325, 225), and the monks afterwards acquired the mill 
itself from members of the Dubeldai family (ibid., p. 222, 
and cf. p. 461). 

1 Reg. All Hallows, Dublin, pp. 11-20. This charter 
was executed at Dublin and witnessed by Laurence, Arch- 
Bishop of Dublin, Edan, Bishop of Louth, Richard, Earl of 
Striguil (R. Comite Destr[igoil] ), Hugh de Lacy, Ralph de 
Warner (probably Ralph de Warneville, Chancellor (1173), 
afterwards (1180) Bishop of Lisieux), Robert Poer, and 
William his chancellor (?) [Who was this ? Did William 
FitzAudelin act as chancellor in Ireland ?] 

2 It has indeed been contended that Henry, even before 
he came to Ireland, by a charter tested at Falaise confirmed 

1226 Q 


also from a late enrolment 1 that in this year 
Henry granted the lands of Faithleg, near his 

To Ail- landing-place at Crook in Waterf ord, to Ailward 
juvenis, as king's merchant, but we have no 
clear evidence of other grants out of the Crown 
lands at this time. 

The Some time in the winter of 1171-2 the council 

Council of mm, . , TT 

Cashei. of clerics which Henry had summoned met at 
Cashel under the presidency of Christian O'Con- 
archy, Bishop of Lismore and Papal Legate. 
There were present Donatus, or Donnell O'Hual- 
laghan, Archbishop of Cashel, Laurence, or 

their possessions to the monks of St. Mary's Abbey, Dublin, 
and by another charter confirmed Strongbow's grant of 
Kilmainham to the knights of St. John, but both contentions 
can be shown to be due to a somewhat similar misapprehen- 
sion and to be very improbable ; see infra, pp. 328, 365. 

1 Chief Rememb. Roll, Dublin, 38 Eliz. (cited Lynch's 
Legal Institutions, p. 107). Ailward juvenis was probably 
son of Ailward the chamberlain, at this time in the young 
king's suite. Close to Faithleg Church is a Norman mote, 
and in what was the attached bailey stand the ruins of a 
later stone castle which belonged to the Ail wards up to 1690. 
Henry's grant of Clontarf, Crook, &c, to the Templars may 
be confidently assigned to the time of his purgation, of which 
it was probably a condition. It is dated at Abryncae 
(Avranches), where Henry and all the chief witnesses can be 
shown to have probably been present on May 21, 1172, the 
day of the purgation. The witnesses include Rotrou, 
Archbishop of Rouen, Arnulf, Bishop of Lisieux, Henry, 
Bishop of Bayeux, and Richard, Archdeacon of Poitiers, 
besides Richard de Humez, Constable of Normandy, and 
other constant attendants of the king at this time. Cal. 
Docs. Ireland, vol. iii, p. 329. 


Lorcan 0' Toole, Archbishop of Dublin, and 
Catholicus, or Cadhla 0' Duffy, Archbishop of 
Tuam, with their suffragans and co-bishops, 
together with abbots, archdeacons, priors, and 
deans, and many other dignitaries of the Irish 
Church. There were also present, commissioned 
by the king, Ralph, Abbot of Buildwas, Ralph, 
Archdeacon of Llandaff, Nicholas, the king's 
chaplain, and others. 1 Gelasius, or Gilla Mac 
Liag, the primate, on account of his great age, 
was not able to be present. 2 He was, however, 
entirely in favour of the new movement in the 
Church, and afterwards came to Dublin to signify 
his assent to all Henry's arrangements. 3 As a 
former pupil and friend of St. Malachy and his 
successor in the see of Armagh, he had devoted 
his efforts during a long episcopate towards 
securing the primacy of his see, and bringing 

1 Gir. Camb., vol. v, p. 281 ; cf . Gesta Hen., vol. i, p. 28 ; 
Rog. Howden, vol. ii, p. 31, where lists of the Irish bishops 
are given. Ralph Diceto and Rog. Wendover speak of 
Lismore as the place where the council met, probably 
confusing the see of the bishop-president with the place of 
assembly. The latter writer says that at the council ' the 
laws [recte, ecclesiastical regulations] of England ' were 
gratefully received by all and confirmed by oath. 

2 Gelasius died on March 27, 1174, in the eighty-seventh 
year of his age and the thirty-seventh of his episcopacy : 
Ann. Ulster, 1174. 

3 Gir. Camb., vol. v, p. 283, where he also mentions the 
interesting detail that Gelasius lived off the milk of one 
white cow which he brought with him wherever he went. 



about the conformity of the Irish Church with 
that of Western Christendom. 

Giraldus professes to give the Constitutions of 
Cashel in the very words in which they were 
promulgated. They were shortly to the fol- 
lowing effect : — 
The Con- 1. That the faithful shall desist from co- 
o/ Cashel. habitation with relations by blood or affinity, and 
shall contract and observe lawful marriages. 

2. That children shall be catechized at the 
church doors, and shall be baptized in conse- 
crated fonts within authorized churches. 

3. That the faithful shall pay tithes of cattle, 
corn, and other produce to their parish church. 

4. That church property shall be free from all 
secular imposts, and in particular that no petty 
kings nor lords nor magnates shall henceforth 
exact refection and lodging in church-lands, and 
that the detestable practice of exacting food four 
times a year from church-farms shall be abolished. 

5. That in composition for homicide by lay- 
men, clerics, though of kin to the perpetrators, 
shall pay no part of the fine [erecj, 

6. That the faithful taken with illness shall 
make their wills in the presence of their confessor 
and neighbours, reserving one-third of their 
movables for their funeral obsequies if they 
leave a legitimate wife and legitimate children, 
and one-half if they leave only a wife or legitimate 


7. That to those who die after good confession 
due obsequies be paid with masses and vigils. 

Finally, that all divine matters shall henceforth 
be conducted according to the observances of 
the Anglican Church. 1 

There is no reason to doubt that these consti- 
tutions, or canons, are correctly reported by 
Giraldus. They were directed to three objects : 
(1) to reform certain irregularities in the matters 
of baptism, marriage, and burial ; (2) to give 
the clergy certain important privileges and 
immunities calculated to enrich them and secure 
their support to Henry's assumption of the 
overlordship of Ireland ; (3) to bring about a 
closer conformity through the Anglican Church 
with Rome. All three objects were sure to find 
favour with the papal see. 

It was probably at this synod that the Irish 
prelates swore fealty to Henry as their king and 
lord, and pledged themselves to conform in all 
things to the example of the English Church. 2 
Each prelate too, we are told, gave him a letter 

1 Gir. Camb., vol. v, p. 282. In Gesta Hen. and Rog. de 
Hoveden (as above) mention is made in general terms of 
the canons as to baptism, tithes, and marriages, the former 
adding statements as to the abuses in vogue, e.g. with 
regard to marriages : ' Plerique enim illorum [Hibernensium] 
quot volebant uxores habebant, et etiam cognatas suas 
germanas habere solebant sibi uxores.' 

2 Gesta Hen., vol. i, p. 26 ; Roger Howden, vol. ii, p. 31 ; 
R. Diceto, vol. i, p. 351. 


with seal attached, after the manner of a charter, 
confirming to him and his heirs the kingdom of 
Ireland. 1 These letters the king sent to Pope 
Alexander III to obtain the papal confirmation, 
which accordingly Henry obtained. 

No mention is made at this time of c the Bull 
Laudabiliter ', which, as we have already stated, 
Henry had long ago obtained from Adrian IV, 
and we may conclude that no public use was 
made of it while Henry was in Ireland. It is, 
however, possible that it may have been privately 
communicated to the clergy, and this, if done, 
would further account for the readiness with 
which they accepted Henry as their overlord, 
and co-operated with his aims. However this 
may have been, Henry, as we shall see when we 
examine the evidence concerning the Bull, 2 had 
sound reasons for not making public use of the 
document before obtaining the sanction of 
the present occupant of the papal chair to his 

1 * Et inde recepit ab unoquoque archiepiscopo et episcopo 
litteras suas in modum cartae extra sigillum pendentes, 
et confirmantes ei et haeredibus suum [?] regnum Hiberniae, 
et testimonium perhibentes ipsos eum et haeredes suos sibi 
in reges et dominos constituisse in perpetuum ' : Gesta Hen., 
vol. i, p. 26 ; cf. Roger Howden, vol. ii, p. 30. Both these 
writers, however, speak of the submission of the prelates as 
if it preceded the council of Cashel. We may doubt the 
accuracy of this description of the letters of the prelates. 

2 See chap. ix. 


About March 1 Henry reached Wexford. He Henry 
was becoming very anxious to hear tidings of his wSford, 
dominions over sea, but owing to the stormy J™* 1 
winter hardly a vessel crossed the channel, and 
no news was forthcoming. While here Henry 
attached to his household Raymond le Gros, 
Miles de Cogan, William Maskerel, and some 
others of the best men he could find in those 
parts, ' with a view,' says Gerald, * to strengthen 
his own and weaken the earl's party.' x That he 
was still indeed apprehensive of the earl's power 
is plain from his creating a counterpoise to it in 
the person of Hugh de Lacy. While at Wexford 
he made a grant to Hugh of the land of Meath Grant of 
for the service of fifty knights, to hold as Mur- Hughde 
rough O'Melaghlin or any before or after him Lacy * 
held it. 2 The ground or pretext for this grant 
was not exactly on all fours with the ground for 
granting Leinster to the earl. Dermot was the 
acknowledged King of Leinster, and Strongbow 
was regarded as in some sort his successor. 
Dermot is indeed described in the Book of Lein- 
ster as King of Leth Mogha (Southern Ireland) 

1 Gir. Camb., vol. v, p. 284, ' ut et suum validiorem et 
comitis partem redderet exiliorem.' Miles de Cogan accom- 
panied Henry when he left Ireland : Ann. Inisfallen, 
Dublin MS. 

2 See note at end of this chapter. The Gesta Hen., 
vol. i, p. 30, and Roger Howden,vol. ii, p. 34, state that the 
service reserved in Henry's grant to Hugh de Lacy was 
100 knights, but this appears to be a mistake. 


and Meath, but his claims to Meath were of 
quite recent date, and were not undisputed. The 
last undisputed King of Meath was Murrough 
O'Melaghlin, the father of Dervorgil, and he 
died in 1153. Since that time Meath had 
repeatedly been the subject of arbitrary parti- 
tions, though again and again an O'Melaghlin 
was proclaimed king. The latest of these 
partitions was in 1169, when Dermot O'Melaghlin 
was killed by Donnell of Bregia, his brother's 
son, and Rory 0' Conor, in revenge for that deed, 
divided Meath into two parts, and gave the 
eastern half to Tiernan O'Rourke and kept the 
western half himself. After the taking of Dublin 
in 1170, Dermot Mac Murrough, as we have seen, 
led an army partly composed of his Norman 
allies through Meath and even into Breffny, and 
Donnell of Bregia and the people of East Meath 
turned against O'Rourke and 0' Conor, and gave 
hostages to Dermot. So at his death Dermot 
may have been regarded as overlord of Meath. 
News At last, after Mid-Lent, with a change of wind 

to the east, news came both from England and 
Aquitaine. It was of so grave a nature that 
Henry had to give up whatever plans he had 
for further securing his foothold in Ireland, l 

1 * Dolet quoque plurimum se regnum Hibernicum, quod 
aestate imminente tarn incastellare quam firma stabilire 
pace statuerat, et in formam omnino redigere, tarn intem- 
pestive relicturum ', Gir. Camb., p. 285. 

over sea. 


and prepare to return to face the storm that 
was gathering in both his English and his con- 
tinental dominions. The cardinal legates com- 
missioned by the Pope to inflict the extreme 
penalties of the Church on Henry's dominions, 
unless suitable reparation were made for Becket's 
murder, appear to have been in Normandy all 
the winter, and were now threatening an inter- 
dict unless the king forthwith came to meet 

And ' as misfortunes never come singly ', the 
king also learned that his son Henry, who had 
been crowned as a sort of subordinate colleague 
at Westminster in the preceding July, was in 
a state of incipient rebellion with a discontented 
baronage at his back. 

Accordingly Henry placed constables in charge Henry 
of his seaport towns : at Dublin, Hugh de fi na i 
Lacy with a garrison of twenty knights, includ- ^tiT 
ing Robert Fitz Stephen, Maurice Fitz Gerald, 
Meiler Fitz Henry, and Miles Fitz David; at 
Wexford, William Fitz Audelin, Philip de Hast- 
ings, and Philip de Braose, with thirty knights ; 
and at Waterford, Robert Fitz Bernard, Hum- 
frey de Bohun, and Hugh de Gundeville, 
with forty knights. 1 Hugh de Lacy, too, was 

1 Gir. Camb., p. 286; Song of Dermot, 11. 2709-24. 
In the Gesta Hen., vol. i, p. 30 and Roger Howden, vol. ii, 
p. 34, it is stated that the custody of both Waterford and 
Wexford was given to Robert Fitz Bernard, and that Henry 


appointed justiciar, 1 and this appointment, 

passing over the manifest claims of Richard of 

Striguil in favour of one who had taken no part 

in the conquest, is a further proof of Henry's 

jealousy of the earl, and of his desire to erect 

a counterpoise to his influence. Moreover, by 

giving the leading Geraldines posts in Dublin 

under Hugh de Lacy, taking Miles de Cogan 2 

and, seemingly, Raymond le Gros away with 

him, and placing his own men in Wexford and 

Waterford, Henry seems to have aimed at further 

6 strengthening his own party and weakening 

that of Earl Richard '. 

And Having thus made his final arrangements, 

Ireland, Henry set sail from Wexford at sunrise on Easter 

n ^2 ' Monday, April 17, 1172, and after a prosperous 

voyage landed about noon at the port of St. 

Davids. 3 One month from that date he met the 

cardinal legates in Normandy. 

Results Henry must have regarded his expedition to 

mising. Ireland as an almost unqualified success. He 

regretted, indeed, having to leave before building 

ordered castles to be built in the three towns. This may- 
be correct. At any rate, as we shall see, William Fitz 
Audelin did not long remain at Wexford. 

1 Rog. de Hoveden, vol. ii, p. 34. 

2 The Song, 1. 2759 ; Annals of Inisfallen ; and cf. Gir. 
Camb., vol. v, p. 284. 

3 His troops sailed the previous morning from Crook, near 
Waterford. The name of Henry's landing-place, which is 
left blank in the Gesta, is given in the Song as Portfinan. 


castles in some strategic sites and completing the 
establishment of peace and order throughout the 
land. 1 But, so far as he had gone, almost every- 
thing had turned out exactly to his desire. He 
had not unsheathed a sword, and yet he had 
received from the kings of three-fourths of 
Ireland an oath of fealty to him as overlord and 
a promise of tribute. Rory 0' Conor indeed had 
submitted reluctantly (if at all) and subject to 
reservations, but his position could be arranged 
later on. The chieftains of the Cinel Owen and 
the Cinel Connell were alone in ignoring him, 
and this they had done, so far as appears, not 
in a spirit of defiance, but simply because they 
did not feel the pressure of his power, and did 
not concern themselves with what went on out- 
side their borders. They, too, might be dealt 
with at another time. As to the clergy, he had 
entirely won them over to the support of the 
new regime, and by the measures adopted 
through them for the reform of abuses and the 
improvement of their status he had practically 
ensured the favour of Rome to his enterprise, and 
this would be useful to him in more ways than one. 
Above all — and this appears to have been his main 
object in coming to Ireland — by taking into his 
hand and garrisoning the seaport towns, he 
had effectually precluded Richard de Clare from 
founding an independent kingdom in Ireland. 
1 Gir. Camb., vol. v, p. 285. 


But de- And yet appearances were deceptive. Henry 
cepi was really far from having secured his own 
dominance over the kings who had so readily 
submitted to him, or an effective control over 
the lords to whom he had granted large fiefs. 
To the Irish kings their acknowledgement of 
Henry as overlord meant no more than the 
similar acknowledgement, which they had often 
given, and broken, to an ard-ri. Nay, as Henry 
would be far off across the seas, they probably 
expected it to mean a great deal less. And by 
granting on feudal conditions the greater part 
of Dermot's kingdom to Earl Richard, and, still 
more certainly, by similarly granting the entire 
kingdom of Meath to Hugh de Lacy, while con- 
ferring on these lords unlimited jurisdiction and 
complete control over their fiefs, Henry had 
rendered inevitable a conflict between English 
and Irish aims and interests. 1 

1 It is worth noting that if we depended on the compilation 
of the Four Masters for our knowledge of Henry's expedition 
to Ireland all we should know is contained in the following 
entry at the end of the year 1171 : ' The King of England, 
the second Henry, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, 
Earl of Andegavia, and lord of many other countries, came 
to Ireland this year. Two hundred and forty was the 
number of his ships, and he put in at Port-Lairge.' No 
notice is taken of the submission of the chieftains, though 
this is recorded in earlier annals. Such suppressions of 
unwelcome facts greatly impair the value of this compilation. 



Transcribed from the Gormanston Register, f. 5. 

Henricus Rex Anglie et dux Normannie et 
Acquitannie et comes Andegavie Archiepiscopis 
episcopis abbatibus comitibus baronibus justi- 
ciariis et omnibus ministris et fidelibus suis 
Francis Anglis et Hiberniensibus totius terre sue 
salutem. Sciatis me dedisse et concessisse et 
presenti charta mea confirmasse Hugoni de Lacy 
pro servicio suo terram de Midia cum omnibus 
pertinenciis suis per seruicium quinquaginta 
militum sibi et heredibus suis Tenendam et 
habendam a me et ab heredibus meis sicuti Mur- 
cardus Ha Mulachlyn (sic) melius earn tenuit vel 
aliquis alius ante ilium vel postea. Et de incre- 
mento illi dono omnia feoda que prebuit vel que 
prebebit circa Duueliniam dum Ballivus meus est 
ad faciendum mihi seruicium apud ciuitatem 
meam Duuelinie. Quare volo et firmiter precipio 
ut ipse Hugo et heredes sui post eum predictam 
terram habeant et teneant et omnes libertates 
et liberas consuetudines quas ibi habeo vel 
habere possum per prenominatum seruicium a 
me et ab heredibus meis bene et in pace libere 
et quiete et honorifice in bosco et piano in pratis 
et pascuis in aquis et molendinis in viuariis et 
stangnis in piscacionibus et venacionibus in viis 
et semitis et portubus maris et in omnibus aliis 
locis et aliis rebus ad earn pertinentibus cum 
omnibus libertatibus quas ibi habeo vel illi dare 


possum et hac mea carta confirmaui. Testibus i 1 
Comite Ricardo filio Gilberti ; Willelmo de 
Braosa ; Willelmo de Albin[eio] ; Reginaldo de 
Cortenay ; Hugone de Gundevilla ; Willelmo 
filio Aldelini dapifero ; Hugone de Cresy ; 
Willelmo de Stotevilla ; Radulfo de Aya (sic) ; 
Reginaldo de Pavily ; Radulfo de Verdun ; 
Willelmo de Gerpunvilla ; Roberto de Ruilli ; 
Apud Wesefordam. 

1 This list of witnesses, wanting in the Gormanston 
Register, is given by Mr. Round, Commune of London, 
p. 152, from MS. Hargrave 313, fol. 44 d (pencil). A similar 
list, with some differences of spelling, is given in the Liber 
Niger of Christ Church, f. 224 (Cal. no. 121). Radulfus 
de Aya was presumably the Radulphus de Haya who after- 
wards supported the young king in his rebellion : Gesta 
Hen., vol. i, p. 46. 



A heated controversy has raged at intervals 
during the last three hundred years over the 
document known as the ' Bull Laudabiliter ', 
by which Pope Adrian IV has been supposed to 
have granted Ireland to Henry II. 1 

As long ago as 1615 it was denounced as a 
forgery by Stephen White, an Irish Jesuit, of 
whom nothing else is known. 2 He was followed 
by John Lynch, a learned and estimable member 
of an old Anglo-Irish house, whose work, entitled 
Cambrensis Eversus, though showing a remark- 
able knowledge of Irish history and tradition, 
is, as regards its avowed object — to controvert 
Giraldus — in the main a pompous failure. 3 
Three long chapters of this work, which was 

1 Mr. Round points out that the so-called ' Bull ' is only 
1 a letter commendatory ' : Commune of London, p. 172. 
Following Giraldus, we shall call it a ' privilege \ 

2 Apologia pro Hibernia adversus Cambri calumnias, 
ed. Rev. Matthew Kelly, 1849. 

3 Cambrensis Eversus, by ' Gratianus Lucius ' (Dr. John 
Lynch), caps. 22-4, ed. Rev. Matthew Kelly, 1848-52. 
The editor answers effectively most of the author's 


published in 1662, are devoted to a denunciation 
of the so-called Bulls of Adrian IV and Alex- 
ander III. This writer was followed by the 
Abbe Mac Geoghegan in his History of Ireland. 
Other writers, including such great Catholic 
historians as Dr. Lingard and Dr. Lanigan, have 
defended the authenticity of the ' Bull ', and 
English writers generally have accepted it as 
genuine. In 1872, however, Dr. Moran, then 
Catholic Bishop of Ossory, re-examined the 
question and argued with great learning against 
the authenticity of the instrument, and he has 
since been followed by other distinguished 
Roman Catholic writers. 

It would be out of place here to notice 
all the arguments which have been urged at 
various times against the authenticity of these 
documents. There is the less necessity to do so, 
as Miss Norgate, the historian of the Angevin 
kings, has recently reviewed the whole con- 
troversy with admirable temper and sound 
judgement, and, as regards the principal docu- 
ment, ' Laudabiliter,' has ably answered all 
serious objections that have been advanced to 
its authenticity. 1 As, however, great if undue 
importance has been attached to the question 
I shall briefly tell the story of the Papal Sanc- 
tions as it may be gleaned from the contemporary 
authorities, adding only such comments as 
1 Eng. Hist. Rev., vol. viii, pp. 13-52. . 


appear necessary to elucidate the same and to 
meet the main difficulties which have occurred 
to some minds. 

On one important point, at any rate, I think 
I have something new to add. By assigning to Anew 
its true date, about April 1173, Henry's Letter 
of Credence when sending William Fitz Audelin 
on a special mission of some sort to Ireland, 
I bring forward some independent confirmation 
of Gerald's statement that Fitz Audelin was 
entrusted with the publication of the Papal 
Privilegia ; and at the same time I prove that 
his mission, as already surmised by Mr. Round, 
took place about April 1173, and not, as has been 
generally assumed, in 1175, thus finally disposing 
of the argument against the truth of the story 
drawn from the supposed delay in publication. 

It is true that the original documents are 
not now forthcoming, and that no copies of them 
are to be found in the Vatican archives, but 
then it appears that there are no documents 
relating to Ireland in the Roman archives 
earlier than the year 1215, and if all transcripts 
are to be rejected as such a good many pages 
from our most careful histories will have to be 
deleted. It appears to me that the account 
given by Gerald de Barry is throughout con- 
sistent with itself, is not disproved by any 
known facts, and is confirmed on many sub- 
stantial points by independent writers and 

1226 m 


authentic documents ; while to those best 
acquainted with the thought and policy of the 
time the disputed documents are in themselves 
in no way improbable. Better evidence than 
this we seldom obtain for any contemporary 
episode of the kind. 
Adrian iv Nicholas Breakspear, Bishop of Albano, was 

and John * «T • txt 

of Saiis- elected Pope as Adrian IV about the same time 
1L55.' as Henry II was crowned King of England. 
The king at once wrote to the Pope con- 
gratulating himself and his country on the 
elevation of an Englishman to the papal chair, 
and making suggestions to the Pope as to the 
work which lay before him. 1 In the same 
year, 1155 — perhaps at the same time — he sent 
an embassy to the Pope, which included John 
of Salisbury, to whom was entrusted the com- 
mission to endeavour to obtain the papal 
sanction to Henry's meditated subjugation of 
Ireland to his rule. This sanction, John of 
Salisbury tells us, he obtained : ' At my prayer 
Adrian granted Ireland to the illustrious King 
of the English, Henry II, to be possessed as an 
inheritance, as his letter to this day testifies. 
For all islands by ancient right, by virtue of the 
Donation of Const antine, the original donor 

1 See Miss Norgate's Angevin Kings, vol. i, p. 497, note. 
The whole chapter gives an admirable account of the 
religious revival during ' the last years of Archbishop 
Theobald '. 


of it, are said to belong to the Church of Rome. 
He also sent by me a golden ring adorned with 
an excellent emerald, by which investiture of 
the right to rule Ireland might be made ; and 
this ring is still ordered to be kept in the State 
archives.' * This statement refers to the year 
1155, and purports to have been written shortly 
after Adrian's death in 1159. 

Now of John of Salisbury we know much* 
His character was one of transparent honesty. 
He was the devoted admirer of Thomas Becket, 
the trusted secretary and envoy of Archbishop 
Theobald, and the dearest friend of the English- 
born Pope. 2 No more suitable man for the 
delicate commission could have been selected. 
That he should have falsely concocted the above 
statement is unthinkable. Of course it has been 
asserted that the passage is a fraudulent inter- 
polation, but this ready method of removing 
inconvenient evidence can only be admitted 
after stringent proof, which does not in this 
case appear to be forthcoming. Moreover, we Council 
have the statement of an entirely independent Chester, 
chronicler that at Michaelmas in this very year, 1155, 
1155, Henry laid before his barons at Winchester 
a scheme for conquering Ireland as a provision 

1 Metalogicus, iv. 42. Johannis Sarisb. opera, ed. Giles, 
vol. v, p. 205. 

2 Miss Norgate, Angevin Kings, vol. i, pp. 480-91 ; 
Diet. Nat. Biog., vol. xxix, pp. 439-41 (R. L. Poole). 

T 2 


for his brother William, but his mother, the 
Empress Matilda, dissuaded him from the 
project at the time. 1 Accordingly the project 
was laid aside until the events we have related 
forced Henry's hand. This independent evi- 
dence of Henry's intentions at the precise date 
can hardly have been taken into account by 
the supposed fabricator of the statement in the 
Metalogicus, with which it is incomplete harmony. 
Why the £ u t ft may be said, when Henry went to 
was not Ireland in 1171 why did he not make use of 
hshed in Adrian's Privilege if it existed ? Then, if ever, 
was the time to publish it. A little considera- 
tion, however, will show that Henry could not 
have made any profitable public use of the 
document at that time. Adrian had died twelve 
years previously, and the existing Pope, Alex- 
ander III, was bitterly incensed at the moment 
against Henry on account of the conflict with 
Archbishop Thomas and the fearful tragedy 
in which that conflict had resulted. Until 
Henry had made his peace with Alexander it 
would have been perfectly futile to seek his 
confirmation of his predecessor's Privilege ; 
while to have paraded the sanction of the 
deceased Pope at a moment when the existing 
Pope was threatening an interdict would have 
been to provoke a counterblast which would 
have far more than undone any possible advan- 
1 Robert of Torigny (anno 1155), p. 186. 


tage to be gained. This seems a simple and 
adequate explanation of the non-publication of 
' Laudabiliter ' at the time of Henry's expedition. 
Henry took much more prudent steps to gain 
the approval of the present occupant of the 
papal chair. As we have seen, one of Henry's 
first acts in Ireland was to summon a synod 
of the clergy of Ireland to meet at Cashel. 
Gerald, who gives the fullest and clearest account 
of this synod, says that a public inquiry was The state- 
made into the ' enormities and foul customs ' o^aidus. 
(enormitates, spurcitiae) of the people of the 
land, which were carefully reduced to writing 
under the seal of the legate, Christian, Bishop 
of Lismore, who presided at the synod. 1 This 
synod seems to have taken place some time 
early in 1172. There were present at it on behalf 
of the king, Ralph, Abbot of Buildwas, Ralph, 
Archdeacon of LlandarT, Nicholas the chaplain, 
and others. 2 Referring to this synod, but with- 
out giving any precise date, Gerald afterwards 3 
says that Henry, having sent an embassy to 
Rome 4 with the aforesaid letter concerning the 

1 ' Ubi, requisitis et auditis publice terrae illius et gentis 
tarn enormitatibus quam spurcitiis, et in scrip turn etiam sub 
sigillo legati Lismoriensis, qui ceteris ibidem dignitate tunc 
praeerat, ex industria redactis ' : Gir. Camb., p. 280. 

2 Ibid., p. 281. 3 Ibid., p. 315. 

4 This was probably soon after Henry's purgation before 
the legates at Avranches on May 21, 1172 : see Norgate, 
Angevin Kings, vol. ii, p. 81. 


1 foul customs ' of the people, obtained from 
Alexander III, then Pope, a Privilege authorizing 
him both to rule the people of Ireland and, 
ill-instructed as they were in the rudiments of 
faith, to mould them by ecclesiastical rules and 
discipline into conformity with the usages of 
the Anglican Church. This Privilege, he con- 
tinues, was sent to Ireland by the hands of 
Nicholas, Prior of Wallingford, and William 
Fitz Audelin, 1 and was forthwith publicly read 
with general approval before a synod of bishops 
convened at Waterford. Along with it was also 
read another Privilege, which the king had 
formerly obtained from Pope Adrian, Alex- 
ander's predecessor, through the agency of 
John of Salisbury, who had been sent to Rome 
to obtain it. By the hands of John, too, the 
same pope presented to the King of the English 
a golden ring in token of investiture, and this 
ring, together with the Privilege, was forthwith 
deposited among the archives at Winchester. 

Gerald then gives the contents of these two 
Privileges. That of Adrian may be closely 
Privilege rendered as follows : ' Adrian, bishop, servant 
iv. ian of the servants of God, to our well-beloved son 
in Christ the illustrious King of the English 
greeting and apostolic benediction. Laudably 
and profitably doth your Majesty contemplate 

1 Fitz Audelin, as we shall see, was probably sent on this 
mission in the spring of 1173 : see Appendix to this chapter. 


spreading the glory of your name on earth and 
laying up for yourself the reward of eternal 
happiness in heaven, in that, as becomes a 
catholic prince, you purpose to enlarge the 
boundaries of the Church, to proclaim the 
truths of the Christian religion to a rude and 
ignorant people, and to root out the growths 
of vice from the field of the Lord ; and the 
better to accomplish this purpose you seek 
the counsel and goodwill of the apostolic see. 
In pursuing your object, the loftier your aim 
and the greater your discretion, the more 
prosperous, we are assured, with God's assis- 
tance, will be the progress you will make: for 
undertakings commenced in the zeal of faith 
and the love of religion are ever wont to attain 
to a good end and issue. Verily, as your 
Excellency doth acknowledge, there is no doubt 
that Ireland and all islands on which Christ 
the sun of righteousness has shone, and which 
have accepted the doctrines of the Christian faith, 
belong to the jurisdiction of the blessed Peter 
and the holy Roman Church ; wherefore the 
more pleased are we to plant in them the seed 
of faith acceptable to God, inasmuch as our 
conscience warns us that in their case a stricter 
account will hereafter be required of us. 

6 Whereas then, well-beloved son in Christ, 
you have expressed to us your desire to enter 
the island of Ireland in order to subject its 


people to law and to root out from them the 
weeds of vice, and your willingness to pay an 
annual tribute to the blessed Peter of one penny 
from every house, and to maintain the rights of 
the churches of that land whole and inviolate : 
We therefore, meeting your pious and laudable 
desire with due favour and according a gracious 
assent to your petition, do hereby declare our 
will and pleasure that, with a view to enlarging 
the boundaries of the Church, restraining the 
downward course of vice, correcting evil customs, 
and planting virtue, and for the increase of the 
Christian religion, you shall enter that island 
and execute whatsoever may tend to the honour 
of God and the welfare of the land ; and also 
that the people of that land shall receive you 
with honour and revere you as their lord : 
provided always that the rights of the churches 
remain whole and inviolate, and saving to the 
blessed Peter and the Holy Roman Church the 
annual tribute of one penny from every house. 
If then you should carry your project into effect, 
let it be your care to instruct that people in 
good ways of life, and so act, both in person 
and by agents whom you shall have found in 
faith, in word, and in deed fitted for the task, 
that the Church there may be adorned, that 
the Christian religion may take root and grow, 
and that all things appertaining to the honour 
of God and the salvation of souls may be so 


ordered that you may deserve at God's hands 
the fullness of an everlasting reward, and may 
obtain on earth a name renowned throughout 
the ages.' * 

Alexander's Privilege, as given by Gerald, is 
little more than a brief confirmation of that of 
Adrian. It may be rendered as follows : — 

1 Alexander, bishop, servant of the servants ofTiex- 6 
of God, to his well-beloved son in Christ the anderIIL 
illustrious King of the English greeting and 
apostolic benediction. Forasmuch as those con- 
cessions of our predecessors which are known 
to have been reasonably made deserve to be 
permanently confirmed, We, following in the 
footsteps of the venerable Pope Adrian, and 
paying heed to the satisfaction of your desire, 
ratify and confirm the concession of the said 
Pope made to you concerning the lordship of 
the kingdom of Ireland, saving to the blessed 
Peter and the Holy Roman Church in Ireland 
as in England the annual payment of one penny 
from every house, to the end that the foul 
customs (spurcitiae) of that country may be 
abolished, and the barbarous nation, reckoned 

1 Adrian's Privilegium is also given by Rog. Wend., 
vol. i, p. 11. Ralph de Diceto, vol. i, p. 300. They may 
have taken it from Giraldus, but their insertion of it 
at least shows that they did not consider it a forgery. 
Or are we to suppose that they were duped, or were in 
the conspiracy % It is also to be found in the Book of 
Leinster, Facsimile, p. 342. 


Christian in name, 1 may through your care 
assume the beauty of good morals, and that the 
church of those regions, hitherto disordered, 
may be set in order, and the people may hence- 
forth through you attain the reality as well as 
the name of the Christian profession.' 

It is not my purpose to discuss questions of 
textual criticism, but it is right to mention that 
an element of doubt is supposed to be thrown 
on the authenticity of Alexander's Privilege by 
the fact that in the manuscript of another of 
Gerald's works, De Principis Instructione, when 
introducing this Privilege, words are added 
meaning, ' as by some is asserted or pretended 
to have been obtained, or by others is denied to 
have ever been obtained.' These words, as the 
editor of the Expugnatio points out, have the 
appearance of a marginal note that has become 
incorporated with the text. 2 Possibly in conse- 
quence of the denial of authenticity so expressed, 
some of the later (fourteenth century) manu- 
scripts of the Expugnatio omit all mention 
of Alexander's Privilege, and the omission is 
effected so clumsily that pure hash is made 
of the prefatory matter. 3 The editor is clearly 

1 This expression, barbara natio quae Christian*) censetur 
nomine, recalls the language of St. Bernard respecting the 
inhabitants of St. Malachi's diocese, Christiani nomine, re 
pagani : Migne, vol. clxxxii, cap. viii, col. 1034. 

2 Gir. Camb., vol. v, p. 318, note. 

3 Ibid., pp. 315, 316, notes. 


right in saying that this bungling change could 
not possibly have been the work of Giraldus, 1 
and it is not easy to see how the words throw- 
ing doubt on Alexander's Privilege could have 
been written by him either. It seems to me 
that these 'rectifications' of Gerald's original 
statement may be disregarded, and that the 
question of the authenticity of Alexander's 
Privilege must be determined on other grounds. 
It will have been observed that Gerald's 
account of the original obtaining of Adrian's 
Privilege agrees closely with that given by John 
of Salisbury. The latter, indeed, says that 
Adrian ' granted Ireland ' to Henry ' to be 
possessed as an estate of inheritance ', while the 
Privilege, as given by Gerald, contains no actual 
grant. We may, however, regard this expression 
of John of Salisbury as merely a loose and 
exaggerated way of describing the general 
effect of the Privilege. So the author of the 

1 Ibid., Preface, p. xliii. In the passage in the De 
Principis Instructione as edited by Mr. Brewer, Adrian, and 
not Alexander, appears as the pope from whom Henry 
obtained the privilegia after the council of Cashel ; and 
Mr. Dimock, in the note to his remarks in the Preface to the 
Expugnatio (as above), supposes that Giraldus by this 
apparent slip may have himself given rise to the subsequent 
blundering rectification. But Mr. G. F. Warner, in the new 
edition of the De Principis Instructione (Gir. Camb., vol. viii, 
p. 195) shows that the slip was Mr. Brewer's, and not 
Giraldus's. The sole MS. reads Alexandro tertio, thus 
agreeing with the Expugnatio. 


Gesta and Roger Hoveden still more em- 
phatically say that Alexander ■ by apostolic 
authority confirmed the kingdom to Henry and 
his heirs and appointed them kings of it for 
ever \ 1 This is certainly an incorrect description 
of any of the documents themselves, but it may 
perhaps be regarded as the view the court 
wished to be taken of those documents, and, 
curiously enough, it is the view which seems 
to have generally prevailed up to recent times. 
But though Adrian's Privilege contains no 
formal grant, temporal domination is implied 
throughout, and is indeed sanctioned and its 
acquisition encouraged when the Pope expresses 
his will and pleasure that the people of Ireland 
should receive Henry with honour and ' revere 
him as their lord ' (dominus). This is the 
appropriate word to express territorial domina- 
tion, and was in fact the title always assumed 
by John in his charters and public documents. 
Adrian's Privilege is, in effect, a mere sanction 
on the part of the Pope to Henry's entering 
Ireland, if he should be minded to do so, with 
a view to effecting certain reforms there. Of 
course Henry could not do this without assum- 
ing the position of dominus of Ireland, and the 
Pope expressly recognizes this fact and uses 
his influence to prevail upon the Irish people 
to receive him as such. 

1 Gesta Hen., vol. i, p. 28 ; Roger Hoveden, vol. ii, p. 31. 


The language employed in these Privileges, 
though indicating that in the opinion of the 
Popes concerned there were many things in 
Ireland calling for reformation, deals only in 
generalities, and especially in the case of 
Adrian's Privilege does not go beyond what 
might be expected in a reforming Pope. Alex- 
ander, indeed, uses stronger language, and, as 
we may note, employs one of the very words 
(spurcitiae) which Gerald uses in stating the 
subject of the inquiry which took place in 
connexion with the Council of Cashel. 

But there are some other documents of really 
much greater significance as bearing on the 
action of the Pope after the date of Henry's 
expedition to Ireland. These are three letters Aiex- 
of Alexander III, all dated Tusculum, the inters. 
20th of September, and almost certainly to be 
referred to the year 1172. One is addressed 
to Christian, Bishop of Lismore, legate of the 
apostolic see (who had presided at the Council 
of Cashel), the four Archbishops of Ireland 
(who are mentioned by name), and their 
suffragans. Another is addressed to Henry 
himself, and the third to the kings and princes 
of Ireland. These remarkable Letters were 
entered in the Black Book of the Exchequer of 
England, 1 and, though not mentioned by Gerald 

1 These letters of Alexander are printed in the Liber 
Niger Scaccarii, ed. Tho. Hearne (1728), vol. i, pp. 42-7 ; 


de Barry, they fully bear out his account of the 
transactions between the prelates at the Council 
of Cashel and the Pope, and manifest the favour 
with which the Pope viewed Henry's recent 
action in Ireland. 

The following is the substance of these Letters, 
which are too long to quote in full : — 

In the first Alexander refers to the vitiorum 
enormitates made known to him by the letters 
of the prelates (ex vestrarum serie liter arum) 
as well as by trustworthy statements of others, 
and rejoices that, as he learns from the prelates, 
those unlawful practices are, under Henry's 
influence, beginning to disappear [alluding prob- 
ably to the decrees of the Council of Cashel]. 
He then commands the bishops to assist Henry 
in maintaining possession of the land and in 
extirpating those abominable practices (ad ex- 
tirpandam inde tantae dbominationis spurcitiam), 
and to visit with the censure of the Church 
any king, prince, or other person who should 
dare to contravene his oath of fealty to the said 
king (juramenti debitum et fidelitatem praedicto 
Regi exhibitam). 

In the letter to Henry, after congratulating 
the king on his triumph, the Pope refers in 
similar strong language to the enormities and 
crimes (enormitates et vicia) of the Irish, specifi- 

also in Rymer's Foedera, vol. i, pt. i, p. 45, and in Opp. 
Alex. Ill, Migne, 200, col. 883-6. 


oally mentioning various unlawful sexual alli- 
ances, eating flesh in Lent, not paying tithes, 
and not showing due respect to churches and 
ecclesiastics. [Most of these subjects, it is to 
be noted, were dealt with by the Council of 
CasheL] He gives as his authority for these 
charges the aforesaid letters of Christian, 
Bishop of Lismore, and the other Irish prelates, 
and the oral testimony of R[alph], Archdeacon 
of Llandaff, of whom he speaks highly. From 
this we may infer that Ralph, Archdeacon of 
Llandaff, who, as we have seen, was one of 
those present on the king's behalf at the Council 
of Cashel, was also one of the envoys sent 
on the embassy to Rome consequent on that 
council. He was just the person we might 
expect to be chosen for the purpose. Alexander 
then proceeds to express his thankfulness that 
Henry should have been inspired to undertake 
the subjugation of the Irish and to extirpate the 
abominable foulness (dbominationis spurcitiam) 
alluded to, and he enjoins it upon him, ' for the 
remission of his sins,' to show still greater 
energy in the undertaking so laudably com- 
menced. This expression seems to allude to 
Henry's sins against the Church, and could 
hardly have been written by anybody ex- 
cept the Pope himself. Finally, alluding, as 
Adrian had done, to the peculiar rights which 
the Church of Rome possessed over islands, 


Alexander urges Henry to preserve and extend 
in that land the rights of the blessed Peter. 

In the letter to the kings and princes, Alex- 
ander expresses his joy at learning that they 
had received Henry for their king and lord and 
had sworn fealty to him, commends them for 
having submitted of their own free will, and 
admonishes them to maintain their oath and 
fealty inviolate. 

It will be observed that in these Letters 
Alexander repeatedly employs the strong words 
enormitates and spurcitiae, which Giraldus also 
employs when describing the subjects of the 
public inquiry instituted by the synod of Cashel, 
the results of which he tells us were written 
down under the seal of the legate and sent to 
infer- Rome. Now this coincidence of language can 

ence from • i i i • i • i r ±_ 

u Se f seemingly be explained m only one ol two ways : 

Sms by eitner Gerald and Alexander were both adopting, 

A1 h X h as ^ ne y naturally would, the precise phrases used 

Giraldus. in the synodal inquiry, and embodied in the 

prelates' letter ; or Gerald wrote the letters 

ascribed to Alexander. But seeing that Gerald 

makes no use or mention of Alexander's letters, 

this last supposition, on this ground alone, seems 

perfectly futile. 

These letters, it will be seen, bear out the 
statement of Gerald de Barry even in details, 
and while the natural and, on the whole, well- 
founded disbelief of Irishmen in the justice of 


the sweeping and extravagant charges contained 
in the letters is quite intelligible and wholesome, 
it is hard to see why their authenticity should 
be called in question by any dispassionate his- 
torian. They have, indeed, been accepted as 
genuine by Roman Catholic writers and others 
who have laboured to prove that Adrian's 
Privilege was a forgery. Others again, with 
greater daring, but perhaps more consistently 
with their conclusions, have rejected all docu- 
ments, from whatever source derived, implying 
a papal sanction to Henry's expedition, and 
have denied all statements concerning it to 
be found in the chronicles and writings of the 
time. This implies such a wholesale conspiracy 
of lying and forgery, and one that would have 
been so easily, and in many quarters so gladly, 
detected at the time, that its seems superfluous 
to deal seriously with it. 

It may, however, be asked, Why did not Gerald 
transcribe these letters of Alexander, if they 
were in existence, seeing that they entirely 
support his account of the matter, instead of 
giving us only the Privileges of Adrian and 
Alexander ? The simple answer seems to be Why 
that these latter were, as he says, published at ^g ™ 
Waterford, and were therefore available to him, ^^ a f n 
while the three letters were very probably not sfer's 
available. There is no reason to suppose that 
either the prelates or the kings of Ireland 

1226 u 


would publish the letters addressed to them, 
and Henry may well have thought that the 
simple confirmation of Adrian's Privilege was 
more to his purpose than the letter addressed 
to himself. It must be borne in mind that 
only recently and tentatively had Rome begun 
to exercise jurisdiction in Ireland, and there are 
signs that the clergy in many parts and the laity 
generally were not prepared to accept her decrees 
unreservedly. Henry was already assured of 
the support of the higher ranks of the clergy, 
but there were many in Ireland, both clerics and 
laymen, who would be certain to resent the 
intemperate denunciations contained in Alex- 
ander's letters to Henry and to the prelates, 
and their publication might be expected to do 
more harm than good to Henry's cause. Rome 
was going too fast and too far, and Henry may 
indeed have wished to be saved from his friends. 
Only one other difficulty in accepting the 
contemporary accounts of this episode need 
here be noticed. Giraldus, it is said, states 
that the papal Privileges were for the first time 
published in Ireland by William Fitz Audelin 
at a synod in Waterford in 1175, or possibly at 
the earliest in 1174, 1 and it may be asked how 
we are to account for this delay in the pro- 
duction of such important documents. The 
answer is that Giraldus gives no precise date, 
1 Gir. Camb. v. 315. 


that the date usually accepted is only a hasty No ex- 
inference of the editor, and that Fitz Audelin's Zh!™* 
mission for the publication of the Privileges P- ubli< f" h 
took place in 1173, probably in the month of Privileges. 
April. As Alexander's letters, presumably sent 
at the same time, are dated September 20 
(1172), there was no exceptional delay. Mr. 
Round, with his wholesome habit of investiga- 
ting ' universally admitted facts ', has already 
pointed out that the inference as to the date 
is a mistaken one, and has shown from the 
Pipe Roll that the mission probably took place 
between Michaelmas 1172 and Michaelmas 1173. 1 
Following up this clue, I have, I think, identified 
the actual Letter of Credence given by Henry 
to William Fitz Audelin on this occasion, and 
have been able to date it (approximately) 
April 1173. As the proof of this is rather 
tedious and technical, I have given it in a note 
appended to this chapter. 

As we have seen, then, in none of the docu- No actual 
ments does the Pope purport to make a grant Mand 
of the sovereignty of Ireland to Henry II. made * 
That sovereignty, or rather overlordship, so far 
as it existed, was won partly by the swords of 
the Norman adventurers, and was established 
more legally by the personal submission of the 
Irish kings and prelates. Adrian, for special 
reasons as to the welfare of the Church, warmly 

1 Commune of London, pp. 182-4. 


approved of Henry's meditated expedition ; 
and Alexander, for similar reasons, still more 
warmly approved of the accomplished fact. 
The difference, however, between a formal grant 
of dominion and such a sanction from a medi- 
aeval Pope is one that appeals to a lawyer 
rather than to a layman, and it is not surprising 
that in this case it has been habitually ignored. 
It is probable that the authenticity of these 
documents would never have been contested 
were it not for the strong language employed 
in them characterizing the low state of morals 
and religion in Ireland. This strong language is 
to be found mainly in Alexander's letters (the 
evidence for which is entirely independent of 
Giraldus), and it may be largely discounted as 
being only the manner of ecclesiastical writing 
Real at the time. What the enormitates vitiorum and 

character ... n -i . £ j .,-, 

of the spurcitiae really were may be inferred with 
toteTa mucn confidence from the canons of the synod 
spurcitiae. f Cashel, and are there seen to have been, with 
one exception, mostly matters of ritual, and 
above all the non-existence of the privileges 
elsewhere enjoyed by the Roman Church. The 
exception was the loose marriage customs that 
prevailed from of old among the lay-folk of 
Ireland. We have seen these customs con- 
demned by foreign ecclesiastics such as Lan- 
franc, Anselm, and St. Bernard, and as late as 
1152 by the synod over which Cardinal Papiro 


presided * — not to mention Giraldus and other 
contemporary writers. Our study of the mar- 
riage customs indicated in the Brehon Law 
Tracts 2 has rendered quite intelligible this per- 
sistent condemnation, and it is vain to assert 
that it was unfounded. A wider outlook than 
was possible at the time, however, would have 
shown that these customs were not a sign of 
degeneracy, but an indication that the people 
were still in a lower plane of civilization than 
had been reached elsewhere ; and a wiser 
statesmanship would have known that they 
were not to be amended by the use of hard 
names and exaggerated language, but by patient 
teaching, wholesome example, and the gradual 
introduction and enforcement of better laws. 

In short, from such study as I have been 
able to give to this episode, I cannot see any- No valid 
thing in these documents to warrant their being ^ reject- 
branded as forgeries. They hang well together, j?s the 
and fully bear out the account of the transaction ments. 
given by Giraldus, and, considering the almost 
complete absence of records reaching back to 
this period, the main facts of his account are 
quite as fully substantiated by independent 
evidence as we have any grounds for expecting. 
The theory of wholesale forgery seems to me 

1 Four Masters, 1152. The first canon was ' to put away 
concubines and lemans from men ' — not from the clergy, as 
has been supposed. 2 Supra, pp. 124-30. 


perfectly gratuitous and highly improbable. 
The Privileges, as we have them, were at any 
rate published to the world in the Expugnatio 
in 1188, and there is no sign that any voice was 
raised at Rome or elsewhere to denounce them. 
The importance of the papal action has, however, 
been exaggerated. Adrian's Privilege played 
no part — certainly no public part — in obtaining 
the submission of the princes and prelates of 
Ireland, and Alexander's action seems to have 
had no marked effect beyond probably con- 
firming most of the clergy in their support of the 
new regime. Indeed, the action of the Popes 
may be regarded from another point of view 
as a grateful anticipation and recognition of 
the service Henry was proposing to do, or had 
done, to the Church of Rome in the way of 
extending her boundaries, supporting her juris- 
diction, and bringing about a closer conformity 
to her usages, rather than as a means of con- 
ferring any very important benefit or assistance 
to Henry in Ireland. Moreover, Alexander's 
position must be borne in mind. There was 
a succession of anti-popes favoured by the 
emperor and other powers during his troubled 
pontificate, and Henry had been sorely tempted 
to throw his weight into the schismatic scale. 
To retain Henry's favour was vital to Alexander. 
Viewed as a matter of mundane policy, in 
securing Henry's support by sanctioning his 


action in Ireland, Alexander was getting more 
than he gave. 

The Pope was not long in following up the Synod of 
opening thus made. In 1177, four years after March' 
the publication of the papal Privileges at 
Waterford, Cardinal Vivian came to Ireland as 
legate of the Pope and summoned a synod of the 
bishops at Dublin. At this synod, according 
to Gerald, he made a public declaration of the 
right of the King of England to Ireland and of 
the confirmation of the Pope, and enjoined on 
clergy and people, under pain of anathema, not 
to presume to depart from their allegiance. 1 
Here, fortunately, there is independent Irish 
evidence of the holding of this synod by Vivian, 
and an indication that its decrees were not 
relished by the Irish. The Four Masters, under 
1177, record: 'Cardinal Vivianus arrived in 
Ireland : A synod of the clergy of Ireland, both 
bishops and abbots, about that cardinal in 
Dublin on the first Sunday in Lent, and they 
enacted many ordinances not now observed.' 

1 Gir. Camb. v. 345. The words jus Anglorum regis in 
Hiberniam, et summi pontificis confirmationem, viva voce 
publice protestatur, must refer to a proclamation by the papal 
emissary of the sanction of the existing Pope, Alexander III. 
When Vivian landed in England in July 1176 he was 
compelled to swear that he would do nothing against the 
king, before being allowed to proceed on his journey : 
Gesta Hen., vol. i, p. 118. His holding a council in Dublin 
is incidentally mentioned, ibid., p. 161. 



The date usually assigned by historians for 
the publication of ' Laudabiliter ' is 1175, or per- 
haps 1174, but Mr. Round has pointed out (Com- 
mune of London, pp. 181-4) that this date is 
not actually given by Giraldus, who alone men- 
tions the publication, but is an inference drawn 
by Mr. Dimock from the supposed sequence of 
events indicated by Giraldus. But this sequence 
was misunderstood, and the precise inference 

In the first book of the Expugnatio, Giraldus 
carries the story, so far as Ireland is concerned, 
no further than the year 1172. He gives, 
however, some account of Henry's wars of 
1173^4. In his preface to the second book 
he apologizes for no longer being able to detail 
the series of events fully, but says that he will 
jot down, cursim et breviter, the materials for 
history rather than attempt a regular historical 
narrative. The first four chapters of the second 
book then mention certain events in Ireland 
to be ascribed to the years 1173-4, and the fifth 
chapter, entitled Privilegiorum impetratio, opens 
as follows : * Interea quanquam martiis plurimum 
intentus et detentus exercitiis, Anglorum rex, 
suae tamen inter agendum Hiberniae non im- 
memor, cum praenotatis spurcitiarum Uteris 
in synodo Cassiliensi per industriam quaesitis 


directis ad curiam Komanam nunciis, ab Ale- 
xandre tertio tunc praesidente privilegium im- 
petravit.' This Privilege, together with Adrian's 
Privilege, he then sent to Ireland by the hands 
of Nicholas, Prior of Wallingford, and William 
Fitz Audelin, who immediately summoned the 
Synod of Waterford and had them both publicly 
read. It is plain that the word inter ea may 
refer to any period of time between the date 
of the Council of Cashel (the winter 1171-2) and 
that of the last event mentioned in 1174. 
Moreover, Mr. Round quotes an entry on the 
Pipe Roll of 1173 which seems to show that 
William Fitz Audelin was actually sent to 
Ireland on a mission between Michaelmas 1172 
and Michaelmas 1173, and so far to corroborate 
Gerald's statement. This entry is as follows : 
'In Passagio Willelmi filii Aldelini et sociorum 
suorum et Hernesiorum suorum in Hyberniam 
xxvii sol. et vi den. per breve Ricardi de Luci ' 
(p. 145). The Pipe Roll contains other writs 
by Richard de Luci, and, as pointed out in 
Eyton's Itinerary (p. 174), it is evident that 
in the spring and summer of 1173 he was acting 
as Viceroy in England. 

But further, I venture to suggest that the 
Letter of Credence given at this time to William 
Fitz Audelin has been preserved and is well 
known, but has been wrongly referred to some 
other period. This document is given in Rymer's 
Foedera, i, p. 36, from Bibl. Cotton., Titus, 
B. XI, fol. 90, and referred to the year 1181, and 
is as follows : — 

'Henricus, Rex Angliae, dux Normanniae et 
Aquitaniae, et comes Andegaviae, archiepiscopis, 
episcopis, regibus, comitibus, baronibus, et om- 
nibus fidelibus suis Hiberniae, salutem. Sciatis 

\\** ft 


me, Dei gratia, salvum esse et incolumem, et 
negotia mea bene et honorifice procedere ; ego 
vero, quam cito potero, vacabo magnis negotiis 
meis Hiberniae. 1 Nunc autem ad vos mitto 
Willielmum filium Adelmi, dapiferum meum, 
cui commisi negotia mea tractanda et agenda mei 
loco et vice. Quare vobis mando et firmiter 
precipio, quod ei sicut michimet intendatis de 
agendis meis, et faciatis quicquid ipse vobis 
dixerit ex parte mea ; sicut amorem meum 
habere desideratis, et per fidem quam mihi 
debetis. Ego quoque ratum habebo et firmum 
quicquid ipse fecerit, tanquam egomet fecissem, 
et quicquid vos feceritis erga eum stabile 
habebo. Testibus, 

Galfrido archidiacono Cantuar 
Ricardo archidiacono Pictavien^ 
Ricardo constabulario Apud Valunis.' 

Leland (History of Ireland, vol. i, p. 113) 
quotes this document, with the addition of 
dominus Hiberniae to Henry's titles, ' from an 
old parchment roll in possession of the Earl of 
Meath,' and supposes it to be the commission 
given to William Fitz Audelin when sent as 
procurator to Ireland in 1177. In this he is 
followed by Gilbert (Viceroys of Ireland, p. 41) 
and others. But this supposition is disproved 
by the fact that about May 1, 1173, the two 
archdeacon witnesses were elected Bishops of 
Winchester and Ely respectively, though they 
were not consecrated until the following year 
(Roger of Howden, vol. ii, pp. 56, 69 ; Ey ton's 
Itin., p. 175). Eyton places it about the end of 
July 1171, when Henry was leaving Normandy 
on his way to Ireland. But a little consideration 

1 Cf . the opening words of Giraldus quoted above, p. 312. 


might have shown that Henry could not have 
called himself dominus Hiberniae at that time, 
or (if this description be not part of the original 
document) could not have addressed his rescript 
to the archbishops, &c, and all his liege sub- 
jects (omnibus fidelibus suis) of Ireland, nor have 
enjoined them per fidem quam mihi debetis before 
he had obtained their oaths of fealty. The letter 
was certainly written after Henry had returned 
from Ireland, and probably after his reconcilia- 
tion with the papacy and before the actual out- 
break of hostilities with his sons. As far as Henry 
is concerned it might then be dated in October 
or November 1172, or in March or April 1173, 
when the king was in Normandy, but when we 
turn to the witnesses we find that the two arch- 
deacons crossed from England to Normandy 
probably shortly before May 1173. The Pipe 
Roll (19 Hen. II, Southampton) has this entry : 
' et in libemtione ix naviura quae debuerimt 
transfretare cum ~Ricardo de Luci et Hicardo 
Victaviae Archidiacono et Gsbufrido Camtuariensi 
Archidiacono et aliis Baronibws precepto Regis 
£13 15s. per breve Ricardi de Luci.' Pipe Roll 
Soc, vol. xix, p. 54, and see Eyton, Itin., p. 174, 
where the author takes the word debuerunt to 
mean no more than that Richard de Luci did 
not cross the sea. The two archdeacons, he 
says, would go to Normandy in prospect of 
their elections to bishoprics. The presence of 
Richard [de Humez], Constable [of Normandy], 
presents no difficulty. All this seems to fix 
March or April 1173 as the date of this rescript 
and of Fitz Audelin's mission. We may add 
that as Hugh de Lacy was summoned about this 
time to the king's aid in Normandy, it would 
be necessary to send some representative of the 


king to Ireland. Richard of Striguil was with 
the king in the beginning of August (Ralph de 
Diceto, vol. i, p. 375), and probably earlier, and 
was not entrusted with the custody of Ireland 
until the middle of that month at the earliest. 
See chapter x, pp. 325-8, infra, where another 
indication of the presence of William Fitz 
Audelin in Ireland at about this time is noted. 



As I have more than once endorsed points 
made by Mr. Round in his contribution to the 
• Laudabiliter ' controversy, I should say that his 
conclusions are peculiar and differ widely from 
mine. He accepts Alexander's Black Book 
Letters as genuine, and as the real answer to 
Henry's embassy, but he thinks that Giraldus, 
instead of giving these, substituted ' a concocted 
confirmation of an equally concocted " Bull " '. 1 
He hardly attempts to explain why Giraldus 
should do this, but suggests that there was 
a conspiracy (which included among its active 
members not only Giraldus, but also the writer 
of the passage in the Metalogicus, the author 
of the Gesta Henrici, and Roger Hoveden, with 
Henry himself, presumably, in the background) 
to represent the Pope as actually granting or 
confirming the kingdom of Ireland to Henry 
and his heirs for ever (a representation not, I 
think, anywhere made by Giraldus), and that, 
as Alexander's real letters contained no such 
grant, Gerald substituted the document known 
as ' Laudabiliter ' and its alleged confirmation, 
though, as Mr. Round emphatically asserts, 
1 Laudabiliter ' contains no such grant either ! 
A more futile forgery it would be hard to imagine. 
As to the method of the forgery, Mr. Round 
thinks that Gerald employed largely the genuine 

1 Commune of London, p. 194. 


letters of Alexander entered in the Liber Niger, 
and he maintains that ' Laudabiliter ' does little 
more than paraphrase and adapt the contents 
of Alexander's letter to Henry. I think Mr. 
Round greatly exaggerates the resemblance. 
But on the supposition that Gerald's statements 
are true, so far as there is a similarity between 
either the language or the sentiment of Alex- 
ander's letter and that of Adrian's Privilege, 
what can be more natural than that Alexander 
should to some extent echo the thought and 
even the phraseology of the document he was 
at the same time confirming ? By way of prov- 
ing that Gerald was capable of concocting the 
privilegia, Mr. Round adduces Der mot's letter 
to Strongbow, which certainly seems to contain 
much of Gerald's own fine writing. But surely 
the fact that Gerald, for literary effect, com- 
posed in his own words an epistle to represent 
Dermot's message, does not prove him — a medi- 
aeval priest — morally capable of concocting, for 
political purposes, two great state documents, 
and of solemnly representing them as coming 
from the Papacy. 

Having thus expressed the opinion that 
' Laudabiliter ' was a concoction, Mr. Round 
proceeds to show that this was not the view 
taken by the Papacy itself in after-times. He 
quotes a papal dispensation of 1290, which 
refers to Henry's invading Ireland ' at the wish 
of the papal see', and also a striking passage 
from the instructions of Innocent X to Rinuccini, 
which proves clearly that even in 1645 the Pope 
believed ' Laudabiliter ' to be genuine. 

For Professor Thatcher's position as to 
'Laudabiliter,' &c, see note at end of this 



After Henry's departure from Ireland, Earl 
Richard and Hugh de Lacy set about securing 
themselves in their possessions and making The 
Henry's grants effective. They were not disturbed Sepos- 
by any opposition from outside their lordships ; session - 
the strong garrisons that Henry left in Dublin, 
Waterford, and Wexford were enough to secure 
them from attack. 1 The recent submissions of 
the chieftains of the south and east of Ireland 
effectually prevented any general combination 
against them, if such could in any circumstances 
have been organized, and the Cinel Owen and 
Cinel Connell, who alone had not submitted, 
were fighting bitterly amongst themselves. 2 
Trouble, however, arose, as might have been 
foreseen, from some of the chieftains dispossessed 
by Henry's grants. Tiernan O'Rourke had in- 
deed no hereditary rights in Meath, but, as we 
have seen, he had claims under the forcible 

1 ' Interea sub regni custodibus tranquilla Hibernia pace 
respirante ' : Gir. Camb. v. 292. 

2 Ann. Ulster, Four Masters, 1172. 


partition of 1169. In 1170, however, the men of 
East Meath had turned against him, and had set 
up a native prince, who had given hostages to 
Dermot. Early in 1171 Tiernan made several 
raids into the district, drove off countless cattle, 
and — ' war-dog,' as he is called by the annalist — 
burned the round tower of Tullyard ' with its fill 
of human beings \* O'Rourke was one of those 
expressly named as having sworn fealty to 
Henry, but he had no idea of giving up his claims 
in East Meath to Henry's grantee, and there was 
an inevitable clash of interests between him and 
Hugh de Lacy. The latter advanced as far as 
Fore in West Meath 2 to take possession of his 
fief — a proceeding which Tiernan naturally re- 
sented. A meeting was arranged between the 
rival claimants at a place now known as the 
Hill of Ward, near Athboy, 3 with the result that 

1 Ann. Tigernach, Ann. Inisf alien, Four Masters, 1171, 
where see O'Donovan's note identifying the place. This 
is the last of several similar entries showing that these 
ecclesiastical towers were used, not only as belfries, but 
as keeps. See Table of ' References to Belfries ' in the Irish 
Annals, compiled by Margaret Stokes, Early Christian 
Architecture in Ireland. 

2 Ann. Tigernach, 1172. 

3 The place is called Cnoc Tlachtgha in the Annals of 
Tigernach (followed by the Four Masters). This was one 
of the old centres of pre-Christian observances, and has been 
identified by O'Donovan with the Hill of Ward (perhaps 
an ignorant half -translation of Cnoc an bhdird, ' the Bard's 
Hill'). Giraldus, who gives an elaborate defence of the 


O'Rourke was slain. There were charges of O'Rourke 
treachery on both sides, which it would be useless 1J72. 
now to investigate. It appears, however, from 
the statements of the Irish annalists that 
O'Rourke had enemies in his own household : 
' Tiernan O'Rourke, King of BrefTny and Con- 
macne, a man of great power for a long time, 
was killed by the Saxons and by Donnell son of 
Annadh O'Rourke of his own clan along with 
them. He was beheaded also by them, and his 
head and body were carried ignominiously to 
Dublin. The head was raised over the door of 
the fortress — a sore miserable sight for the Gael. 
The body was hung in another place with the 
feet upwards.' 1 In the same year this Donnell 
O'Rourke and the English made two incursions 
into Annaly, a district now included in the County 
Longford, killed its chief, Donnell O'Farrell, and 
carried off many cows and prisoners. 2 In the 
next year Donnell O'Rourke was slain by some 
of Tiernan's followers: One of his hands was 

occurrence, calls the place Collis Ororicii, evidently so named 
after the event. 

1 Ann. Ulster, 1172. 

2 The Annals of Tigernach and those of Inisf alien (1172) 
specify the tribe-lands as Muintir Anghaille, Muintir 
Ghiollagain, and the town of Ardacha Eascoip Maoil 
( Ardagh), and state that Hugh de Lacy was the leader of the. 
expeditions. Lands in these districts, which were included 
in the ancient kingdom of Meath, were afterwards granted 
by Hugh de Lacy to his followers. 

1226 x 


struck off and sent to RoryO' Conor, ' who drove 
a nail through it on the top of the castle of Tuam ' 
as a warning to traitors. 1 

As for the earl, before Henry's departure he 
went to Ferns, the old royal seat of Leinster, and 
there gave his daughter (by a former marriage, 
Robert de we must suppose) to Robert de Quency — prob- 
marSes ably a relative of Sayer de Quency, the future 
^^ g " Earl of Winchester — appointed him Constable 
daughter. f Leinster, and gave him the Duffry in fee. 2 
This was the district to the west of Ferns and 
Enniscorthy of which Murrough 0' Brain, lately 
slain, had been chieftain. Afterwards the earl 
abode at Kildare. From this he made an incur- 
sion into Clanmalier, 3 a sub-district of Offaly, 
under the rule of O'Dempsy, a chieftain who 
refused to parley with the earl or give him 
hostages. When the earl was returning with 
his spoil to Kildare, his rearguard was attacked 
by O'Dempsy in a pass through the woods, and 
slain. 8 n * s constable, Robert de Quency, was killed. 4 

1 Ann. Tigernach, 1173. 

2 Song of Dermot, 11. 2741-50. 

3 Clanmalier comprised the baronies of Portnahinch in 
Queen's County and Upper Philipstown in King's County. 
See Book of Rights, pp. 193, 216-17, and compare the map 
of Leis and Offalie reproduced in the Journ. R. S. A. L, 
1862-3, p. 345. The O'Dempsys of Clanmalier were 
nominally subject to the O' Conors Faly. 

4 Song of Dermot, 11. 2769-816. This affair is recorded 
in the Ann. Tigernach, 1172, as follows : ' An onfall by Cu 
Aifne, son of Aed Hua Conchobair Failge, on the earl's troops 


Raymond le Gros now applied for the vacant 
constableship, and besought the earl to give him 
his sister Basilia in marriage. Strongbow re- 
fused, and Raymond, bitterly offended, returned 
to Wales, to his father's castle at Carew in 
Pembrokeshire. 1 Hervey de Montmorency, the 
earl's uncle, appears to have been appointed 

Hervey, as we have mentioned, had received Dunbrody 

. ' Abbey. 

a large grant from Dermot after the taking of 
Wexford, and this grant, comprising apparently 
the present baronies of Bargy and Shelburne in 
the south-west corner of the County Wexford, 
had been confirmed to him by Strongbow. It 
seems to have been in 1172 or, at latest, early 
in 1173, that Hervey gave a considerable portion 
of the latter barony to the monks of Buildwas in 
Shropshire, to found an abbey of the Cistercian 
Order. This date, somewhat earlier than that 
usually ascribed to Hervey' s grant, seems to 
be fixed by Strongbow' s confirmation charter, 
among the witnesses to which was Robert de 

in Kildare, and some of the Foreigners and the Hui Failgi 
were killed there.' The Annals of Inisf alien, Dublin MS. 
(1172) has the following entry: 'Conaifne, son of Aedh 
O'Conor Failge, and O'Diomasa surprised the Earl of Stri- 
guil's forces at Kildare, where a few of the English were 
slain, among whom was Robert de Quincy, the earl's son-in- 
law.' The pass where the reverse occurred was probably 
a track through the woody fastness of Rosglas, near 
Monasterevan* x Song of Dermot, 11. 2827-60, 



Quenci, who, as we have seen, appears to have 
been slain before the earl was summoned to 
Normandy in 1173. 1 

The monastic buildings ' de Portu Sanctae 
Mariae de Dunbrothy ', as the house was called, 
were not commenced until after the year 1182. 
In this year the Abbot of Buildwas sent over a 
lay brother named Alan to inspect the site. 
Alan found the place a waste wilderness, and 
was obliged to use a hollow oak-tree as his 
lodging while the boundaries of the lands 
given were being marked out. On his certifying 
to the desolation of the site, the sterility of the 
land, and the fierceness of the barbarous people 
living in the neighbourhood, the Abbot of 
Buildwas made over all rights under Hervey's 
charter to St. Mary's Abbey, Dublin. The 

1 See these charters in the Chartulary of St. Mary's Abbey, 
vol. ii, pp. 151-4. There is, however, a difficulty about 
their exact dates. Hervey's charter is witnessed by Felix 
[O'Dullany], Bishop of Ossory, but the obit of his predecessor, 
Donnell O'Fogarty, is given by the Four Masters in 1178, 
two years after Strongbow's death I Possibly episcopo is 
a transcriber's error for abbate, as Felix was called Abbot of 
Ossory, i. e. of Jerpoint, before he was translated to the see. 
Again, another witness is Domina Nesta, but from Giraldus 
(p. 314) we should certainly infer that Hervey's marriage 
with Nesta, daughter of Maurice Fitz Gerald, did not take 
place until 1174. Perhaps, however, this is another case in 
which we cannot take the order in which Giraldus mentions 
events as strictly chronological. Or it may be that a later 
copy of Hervey's charter was inserted in the Register. It 
is there said to have been executed in triplicate. 


monks were soon busy in the place, 1 erecting 
their buildings and converting the wilderness 
into a garden. They were granted protection 
by John in 1185. 2 Their privileges were con- 
firmed and extended by William Marshal, Earl 
of Pembroke, and by subsequent lords of the 
soil, and for at least three centuries the Abbot 
of Dunbrody was a power in the land, and 
virtually supreme within his own borders. And 
now, at the confluence of the Suir and Barrow, 
the stately ruins of the abbey-church stand 
lonely amid the fields, to attest the former 
greatness of the house. 

As we have seen, it was probably in March 
or April 1173 that Henry sent over to Ireland 
William Fitz Audelin on a special mission, with 
powers to act on the king's behalf, and about the De Lacy 
same time both Hugh de Lacy and Richard s? ron g- 
Fitz Gilbert appear to have been summoned to ^ 
Henry's aid in Normandy. The earl, we are moned 
told, came with a number of knights and was mandy. 
given the custody of the frontier fortress of 
Gisors. 3 Hugh de Lacy was entrusted with the 
defence of Verneuil, which was besieged by the 

1 Chart. St. Mary's Abbey, Dublin, vol. i, pp. 354-5. 
St. Mary's Abbey, Dublin, had already been subordinated 
to Ralph, Abbot of Buildwas, and his successors by Henry 
in 1175 : ibid., p. 79. 2 Ibid., vol. ii, p. 167. 

3 Song of Dermot, 11. 2886-7. The exact date is uncertain. 
Henry fortified and provisioned Gisors and other frontier 
fortresses in March : Gesta Hen., vol. i, p. 42. 


French king in July. 1 Early in August we find 
Strongbow in the force which Henry mustered for 
the relief of Verneuil. 2 ' By a double treachery,' 
however, ' Louis, under cover of a truce, gained 
possession of the town, set it on fire, and retreated 
into his own domains before Henry could over- 
take him.' 3 We need not follow the fortunes of 
this war. Henry, we are told, was well pleased 
with the services of the earl, and gave him leave 
to return to Ireland. At last, indeed, Henry 
Custody seems to have taken him into favour. He gave 
given to him the custody of the kingdom, sending with 
bow?! ug. hi m Raymond (according to Gerald) as coadjutor. 
1173 - At the same time he granted to him Wexford, 
which henceforth became merged in the lordship 
of Leinster, and the castle of Wicklow. 4 But 
a price had to be paid for this favour, and 
Henry, when sending back the earl to Ireland, 
summoned through him the garrisons he had left 
in the seaport towns, and apparently others as 

1 Gesta Hen., vol. i, p. 49. 

2 Ralph de Diceto, vol. i, p. 375, where Richard of Striguil 
is said to have lately come from Ireland. 

3 Norgate's Angevin Kings, vol. ii, p. 147. 

4 Song of Dermot, 11. 2894-905 ; Gir. Camb. v. 298. 
The Song says : — 

Si li baillat la marine 
Watreford e Dyveline. 

These were the crown-lands. This appointment and grant 
took place at Rouen, where Henry was from August 10 
to 21 : Gesta Hen., vol. i, pp. 56, 57. 


well, to aid him in his war with the revolted 
barons. Robert Fitz Stephen and Maurice de 
Prendergast are expressly mentioned, as well 
as Robert Fitz Bernard, who had been left in 
command of the garrison of Waterford. 1 Pre- 
sumably William Fitz Audelin left at the same 
time. He cannot have been more than five 
months in Ireland as representative of the king, 
and, except his summoning the Synod of Water- 
ford and publishing the papal Privileges, nothing 
is recorded of his brief governorship, which 
indeed has escaped the notice of historians. 
There is, however, one other clear indication of 
his presence as governor at this time. In pur- 
suance of the king's precept he caused a legal 
inquisition to be made at Dublin as to the lands 
which had been properly given to the white 
monks of St. Mary's Abbey before his arrival 
in Ireland. 2 From the list of lands so found to 
belong to them it is clear that this inquisition 
must have been taken before, and with a view 
to, Henry's confirmatory grant of these precise 

1 Song of Dermot, 11. 2906-39 ; Giraldus ut supra. 
The Irish forces joined in the campaign against the Earl 
of Leicester and were present at the battle of Fornham, 
near St. Edmund's, October 1173. Then they are said to 
have been employed against William the Lion, King of 
Scotland, and after his capture in July 1174 to have passed 
over to Normandy to the king : Song, 11. 2946-85. Fantosme, 
1. 1057, expressly mentions Robert Fitz Bernard at Fornham. 

2 Chart. St. Mary's Abbey, Dublin, vol. i, p. 138. 


lands to St. Mary's Abbey tested at Falaise, 1 

and this grant should probably be referred to 

October 1174, when Henry and nearly all the 

witnesses can be shown to have been at Falaise, 

when the war was over. 

Raymond Encouraged by the news of Henry's difficulties 

com- abroad and by the weakening of the garrisons 

mander. in i re i an ^ ? the Irish chieftains who had so 

recently sworn fealty to Henry are said to have 

been in a state of rebellion against the king. 

The earl's own household troops, too, were 

1 Ibid., p. 81. This confirmatory grant has been placed 
in July 1171 : Dugdale, Monasticon, v. 363, ii ; and Eyton, 
Itin., p. 158, who, however, says that 1175 is as likely as 
1171. Gilbert (Preface, Chart. St. Mary's, vol. i, p. xviii) 
endeavours to support the earlier date by reference to some 
legal proceedings in 1282-3 (ibid., p. 297), in the course of 
which the abbot produced a charter from Henry II as 
evidence that the abbey had been founded and granted its 
liberty before liberties had been granted to the city of 
Dublin. But, as the same proceedings show, the comparison 
was with John's charter of 1192 or 1200 to the city. The 
persons to whom Henry's confirmatory charter is addressed : 
' archiepiscopis, &c, et omnibus fidelibus suis Francis et 
Anglicis et Hyberniensibus,' sufficiently indicate that it could 
not have been granted before Henry's visit to Ireland. 
Besides, the places confirmed to St. Mary's include places 
granted by Strongbow (ibid., pp. 78, 83), and Henry would 
never have confirmed a grant from Strongbow before 
receiving his submission. The Falaise charter must, how- 
ever, have preceded the Feckenham charter (ibid., p. 79), 
which must be dated 1175, according to Mr. Round in July 
(Feudal England, p. 510), but according to Eyton's Itinerary, 
p. 196. in October. 


discontented and threatening mutiny. There 
was soon no money wherewith to pay them, and 
under Hervey as constable there was no prospect 
of their being able to subsist by plunder. They 
therefore clamoured for Raymond to be ap- 
pointed their commander, and threatened, if this 
were not done, to return to England or, worse, 
desert to the enemy. Accordingly, Raymond 
was appointed to the command of the troops. 
An incursion was immediately made into Offelan incursion 
(a district in the north-east of the present County offeian. 
Kildare), which resulted in obtaining an immense 
booty and a fresh supply of horses and arms for 
the troops. 1 Offeian was in Leinster, and its chief 
was one of the foremost in opposing Dermot. 
As Dermot' s successor, or rather, as grantee 
of Leinster, Strongbow would necessarily insist 
on submission here. Some other pretext must 
have been made for the next exploit. This was 
the plundering of Lismore, both the city and the And to 

... . . . . Lismore. 

adjoining territory. Lismore was in the terri- 
tory of the Decies in Munster, and both Dermot 
Mac Carthy, King of Munster, and Melaghlin 
O'Phelan, King of the Decies, had submitted to 
Henry at Waterford, but only as subordinate 
kings submit to their overlord. This was the 

1 Gir. Camb. v. 308. Faelan Mac Faelain afterwards 
gave hostages to Strongbow : Song of Dermot, 1. 3216. 
He lived to 1203, when he died in the monastery of Connell 
founded by Meiler Fitz Henry : Four Masters, 1203. 


first instance in which the Normans advanced 
beyond the bounds of Leinster and Meath, and 
Giraldus himself disdains to excuse the earl for 
countenancing it. 1 Human nature being what 
it is, however, such encroachments are the 
inevitable result when a strong conquering and 
as yet united race gets a foothold among a weak, 
ill-knit congeries of tribes. If it was the first 
encroachment it was certainly not the last. 
Having collected their prey, the plunderers 
drove the cattle by the coast route to Waterford. 
The rest of their spoil they loaded in thirteen 
small vessels, some of which had come from 
Waterford, and others they had found in the 
port of Lismore itself. While they were waiting, 
apparently at Youghal haven, for a favourable 
breeze, a fleet of thirty-two ships from Cork, 
full of armed men under the command of Gil- 
bert, son of Turgerius, 2 presumably an Ostman, 
Naval attacked them. A naval combat ensued, one of 
the few recorded in Irish history. The Ostmen 
fought with stones (slings) and axes, the Nor- 
mans, under Adam de Hereford, with bows and 
arbalests. 3 At length the men of Cork were 

1 Gir. Camb. v. 382. 

2 In the ' curia que fuit Gileberti filii Turgarii f was 
situated the church of St. Nicholas, Cork : Reg. St. Thomas's, 
Dublin, p. 209. 

3 ' Isti lapidibus et securibus acriter impetunt, illi vero 
tarn sagittis, quam laminis ferreis quibus abundabant, 
promptissime resistunt.' Laminae ferreae= quarrels. 


defeated and the Ostman leader slain, and the 
victorious fleet, increased in number by the 
captured vessels, sailed in triumph to Water- 
ford. 1 Raymond himself was not present at this 
fight, but, hearing of it, he immediately hastened 
to the district with a small band of troops, and 
meeting Dermot MacCarthy, who had come with 
an army to aid the men of Cork, he put him to 
flight at Lismore, and brought back 4,000 head 
of cattle to Waterford. 

It was, perhaps, in consequence of this attack O'Brien 
on Lismore that Donnell O'Brien, King of against 
Thomond, and with pretensions to be King of bow!* 8 
Munster, now turned against Strongbow. As 
long as Strongbow confined his efforts to secur- 
ing for himself Dermot' s kingdom of Leinster, 
Donnell in general supported him, but in face of 
this attack on his neighbour, Dermot Mac Carthy, 
he may well have suspected Strongbow' s ulterior 
aims, and thought that his own turn would come 
next. In any case, towards the close of 1173, 
in company with a battalion from the west of 

1 Gir. Camb. v. 309. It is not quite clear in what portu$ 
the fight took place. In the Book of Howth and in Bray's 
Conquest of Ireland (Carew, Cal. Misc., pp. 67, 291) Dungar- 
van is supplied as the scene of the battle. This is a good 
deal more than sixteen miles, the stated distance, from Cork. 
Youghal harbour, connected with lismore by the navigable 
Blackwater, suits the distance better, and was probably 
regarded as the port of Lismore. The plundering of 
Lismore is mentioned in the Annals of Tigernach. 


Connaught headed by Conor Maenmoy, son of 
Rory O' Conor, he led an expedition ' to attack 
the castle of Kilkenny and the foreigners who 
dwelt therein '. This is the first intimation we 
have that Strongbow had a castle in Kilkenny. 
Probably it was part of the agreement with 
Donnell Mac Gillapatrick that Strongbow should 
be allowed to erect and garrison a castle there. 
Like nearly all the early Anglo-Norman castles, 
it was probably a mote-castle, or an entrenched 
and stockaded mound of earth with a wooden 
tower on top. It was certainly not of any great 
strength, and at Donnell' s approach the garrison 
evacuated it and retreated to Waterford. Donnell 
then destroyed the place and plundered the 
district round about. ' That reduction,' adds 
the annalist, ' was a grief to the Foreigners of 
Ireland.' * 

Early in 1174 a new expedition was planned 
against Munster. The ever- victorious Raymond 
le Gros had returned to Wales in consequence of 
news he had received of the death of his father, 
William Fitz Gerald, and in his absence Hervey 
de Montmorency had once more been appointed 
constable. Hervey, we are told, now led the 

Ann. Tigernach (continuation), Ann. Inisfallen (Dublin 
MS.), 1173. That there was a mote at Kilkenny Castle as 
late as 1307 appears from an extent of the lands of Joan, 
Countess of Gloucester and Hertford (35 Ed. I, no. 47, 
m. 34). 


earl and his household troops to Cashel. The 
object probably was to make a reprisal for 
O'Brien's attack on Kilkenny. Hearing, how- 
ever, that Rory O' Conor was coming to help the 
men of Munster, the earl sent to Dublin for 
reinforcements. A strong band, consisting of 
the Ostmen of Dublin, led by some of the garri- 
son, immediately advanced to join the earl at 
Cashel. These reinforcements marched through 
Ossory to the neighbourhood of Thurles, where 
they encamped for the night. Next morning Ostman 
at dawn, Donnell O'Brien and Conor Maenmoy, ff C at CU 
Rory's son, who were fully informed by their j^ 7 u 4 rles ' 
scouts of these movements, surprised the Ostman 
force and after a sharp struggle utterly defeated 
them. Four hundred of the Ostmen (or, accord- 
ing to the older Irish annals, 700 foreigners) were 
slain, besides four Norman knights who led 
them. Outmanoeuvred and in great peril from 
the combination against him, the earl, when he 
heard of this misfortune, retreated in confusion 
to Waterford. 1 

1 See the authorities collected in O'Donovan's note to 
Four Masters, 1174. There is, however, no such direct 
opposition between the brief entries in the older annals and 
the more detailed account given by Giraldus as O'Donovan 
intimates. In the Annals of Tigernach (followed with 
variations by the Four Masters) it seems indeed to be stated 
that the junction with the Dublin contingent had been 
effected before the battle. Even this is not quite certainly 
intended. But in any case the evidence of Gerald on such 


This was the first serious check the earl's 
arms had received, and though the victors 
returned home and did not follow up their 
success, the news of the mishap, we are told, 
was the signal for a rising of all Ireland against 
the English. 1 So far as appears, however, there 
Revolt was no rising in Leinster ; but the Ostmen of 
Ostmen Waterford and Wexford, no doubt on hearing of 
fordT ateF ^ e ca l am ity which had befallen their kinsfolk of 
Dublin, became disaffected, and this disaffection, 
in Waterford at any rate, ' where the earl was 
as one besieged,' was very serious, and after- 
wards broke out in open revolt. By the rising 
of all Ireland against the English we must under- 
stand the gathering of the clans of Ulster and 
Connaught, who were now being summoned by 
Rory for a hosting into Meath. 
strong- In these straits the earl sent a message to 

aid from Raymond in Wales promising that he would 
mond &* ve n * m n * s s i s ^ er Basilia in marriage and the 
constableship of Leinster, as he had formerly 
asked, and urging him to come to his aid with a 

a point is preferable. His bias, moreover, would have been 
to exaggerate, not to minimize, the mishap, which occurred 
under Hervey's command, so as to give the greater glory to 
Raymond, who soon, restored the position, and there are 
not wanting indications that he does exaggerate the evil 
plight of the earl. 

1 Gerald's language (p. 311) is very emphatic and 
obviously exaggerated : ' casus istius occasione totus totius 
Hiberniae populus in Anglos unanimiter insurgunt.' 

;trongbow, lord of leinster 335 

strong force. Raymond, along with Meiler Fitz 
Henry and others of his kinsmen, immediately 
collected a force of thirty knights, 100 horse- 
soldiers, and 300 archers on foot, and conveyed 
them to Wexford in fifteen ships. They arrived 
just in time to quell a mutiny of the Ostmen 
here, and then set out to relieve Strongbow. It 
appears that the earl was at this time on an 
island in the Suir, near Waterford, now known 
as the Little Island, but then called Inis 
Teimle or Inis Doimhle, and that here Raymond 
came to meet him, and conducted him to 
Wexford. 1 

Raymond appears to have been unable to enter 
Waterford. The governor of the town, called 
Fretellus by Giraldus, endeavoured to follow 
the earl, but was slain with some of his com- 
panions by the Ostmen whom he had employed 
to convey him down the river in a boat. Having 
done this treacherous deed, the Ostmen returned 
to Waterford and excited a revolt, in which all 

* Gir. Camb. v. 311-12. Song of Dermot, 11. 2994- 
3031, where the meeting -place of the earl and Raymond 
is called iddle de Instepheni % The Dublin copy of the 
Annals of Inisfallen state that the men of Waterford, on 
hearing of the defeat of Thurles, * killed the two hundred 
who were guarding the town. Then the earl went on an 
island near the town and remained there a month, and then 
went back again to Dublin' : Four Masters, 1174, note. 
According to the Song, Raymond landed with only ' three 
ships', another indication of probable exaggeration in 
Gerald's account. 


the English who could be found in the open 
spaces and houses of the town were slaughtered, 
without regard to age or sex. The garrison in 
Reginald's Tower, however, succeeded in holding 
the town and quelling the mutiny. The Ostmen, 
except the leaders of the revolt, were pardoned, 
but were henceforth distrusted and reduced in 
status. 1 
Mamage The nuptials of Raymond and Basilia were now 
mondand celebrated in Wexford, and on the following 
asiia ' day Raymond set out, accompanied by his 
brother-in-law, to the relief of Hugh de Lacy's 
barons in Meath, whose territory at this moment 
was being raided by a huge army under Rory 
Hosting The Irish annals do not mention this hosting 
O'Conor of Rory O'Conor into Meath. Indeed, if we 
Seath. depended solely on Irish sources of information 
we should know very little about the doings of 
the Normans during the early years of the in- 
vasion, and especially during the three years 

1 This seems to be the meaning of Gerald's words : ' denuo 
proditores ad pacem cum deteriore tarn opinione quam con- 
ditione sunt reversi ■ (p. 313). This reduction in status was 
perhaps the real historical foundation for the curious finding 
of the jury entered in the Plea Roll of the 4th Edward II 
(see Fac. Nat. MSS. of Ireland, vol. iii, Introd. vi, pi. vii, 
and App. iii). At least the historical statement there made 
is not borne out by anything we know, and seems very 
improbable. It was probably in consequence of this revolt 
that the Ostmen were removed from Waterford and settled 
in the villa Ostmannorum. 


that followed Henry's visit to Ireland. With 
the exception of the killing of O'Rourke and the 
battle of Thurles, they hardly mention anything 
bearing on the fortunes of the invaders during 
these three years. From the Irish annals, 
however, we learn that Donnell Bregach O'Me- 
laghlin, who in 1170 had turned against O'Conor 
and O'Rourke and given hostages to Dermot, 
and who had probably accepted the new regime, 
was killed in 1173 by his half-brother, Art 
O'Melaghlin, and that Art succeeded him in 
West Meath, while the kingdom of East Meath 
appears to have been assumed by Manus 
O'Melaghlin. Probably it was to assist these 
princes against the encroachments of the Nor- 
mans, who were already beginning to build 
castles in Meath, that Rory now crossed the 
Shannon with a formidable army. 

The Song of Dermot gives us several interesting 
particulars about this hosting. 1 In the first place, 
it shows that the hosting was on a very large 
scale, and consisted of contingents from all the 
principal tribes of Connaught and Ulster. It 
gives a list of the chieftains who joined in it, 
which must have been supplied by a contem- 

1 11. 3222-341. The account there given is not connected 
with the return and marriage of Raymond and his rescue 
of Strongbow — the sequence is interrupted by a long 
detailed account of the sub-infeudation of Leinster and 
Meath — but it evidently refers to the hosting mentioned 
by Giraldus, pp. 311, 313. 

1226 Y 


porary Irish authority. 1 In the next place, we 
find there an authoritative contemporary descrip- 
tion of the kind of castle erected by Hugh de 
Lacy at Trim, which, taken together with a 
similar description of the castle built by Richard 
le Fleming at Slane, has led to a fresh examina- 
tion of the subject, and an entire revision 
of our ideas as to the type of the castles 
erected in Ireland by the first Anglo-Norman 
The first We are told that Hugh de Lacy ' fortified a 
Trim. house at Trim, and threw a fosse around it, and 
then enclosed it with a herisson ', or stockaded 
rampart. 2 He then placed a garrison in the 
house (meysun), appointed Hugh Tyrrell warden 
of the castle (chastel), and left for England. 
Rory O' Conor chose his time well for a 
last effort to oust the foreigners from Meath. 
Hugh de Lacy was away with the king in 

1 Ibid., 11. 3238-59, The list includes, besides the 
Connaught princes, the kings of Meath, Breffny, Uriel, Uladh, 
the Cinel Owen, and the Cinel Connell — the whole of Leth 
Cuinn, in short. [Corrigenda in the notes to this passage : 
Oharthire, probably O'hEghra (O'Hara) ; Poltilethban, i.e. 
Poll tighe Liabhain, a place in O'Shaughnessy's country : 
Keating's Hist. (I. T. S.), vol. ii, p. 324. Macgarragan, Mac 
Carrghamhna, lord of Muintir Maoilsionna (in Westmeath) : 
Topogr. Poems, p. 12.] 

2 A Trym ferma une meisun, 
E fosse jeta envirun, 

JE pus l'enclost de hireson. 

Song, U. 3223-5. 


Normandy, 1 Strongbow was only just emerging 
from his difficulties in Leinster, and the barons 
of Meath could expect no help from the depleted 
and disheartened garrison of Dublin. 

On hearing of the gathering of the clans 
against him, Hugh Tyrrell sent a messenger in 
haste to seek succour from the earl, and the earl 
immediately assembled the host of Leinster and 
marched to Trim. But he arrived too late. 
The Irish were before him. Hugh Tyrrell, from 
lack of support, had evacuated the castle, and Evacu- 
when the Irish came it was empty. Thereupon Hugh 
' they threw down the mote and levelled it even yrre ' 
with the ground, but first of all they put the 
house to flames '. 2 The Irish had departed 
before the earl arrived, and he found neither 
house nor cabin, big or little, to shelter him for 
the night in Trim. Straightway he mounted 
horse, pursued the retreating host, and came up 
with their rear. The Irish had no armour, and 
could not stand the charge of the Norman 
chivalry. But they scattered in every direction,, 
and their pursuers only succeeded in cutting off 

1 Hugh de Lacy appears to have been with the king at 
Rouen about December 1174, and at Valognes in April 
1175 : Eyton's Itin., pp. 187, 189. 

2 La mot[e] firent degeter, 
Desque a la tere tut verser, 
E la meysun tut premer 
De in ardant estenceler. 

Song, 11. 3300-3. 

Y 2 


a few. The earl then returned to Dublin, and 

Hugh Tyrrell re-fortified his fortress (forcelette). 

Type of This castle, then, was not a strong structure of 

castle at ° 

Trim. stone and mortar such as we are accustomed to 
associate with the term ' castle ', but consisted 
simply of a wooden house or rather tower (turris 
lignea or bretesche) placed on the summit of an 
artificial mound or hillock of earth (mote, Latin 
mota), and surrounded at the base by a fosse 
and an earthen rampart bearing a stockade. 

And at Similarly at Slane, on the northern bank of the 
Boyne between Navan and Drogheda, where 
Hugh de Lacy gave twenty knights' fees to 
Richard le Fleming, the Song says that Richard 
' raised a mote in order to harass his enemies '. x 
It then describes an attack by the Irish, the 
defence and ultimate destruction of the ' mey- 
son ', and the slaughter of its garrison. It is 
plain that this castle, like that at Trim, consisted 
of a wooden house or tower on a mote. 

At Slane, on the top of the hill near the ancient 
monastery, the mote still exists. At Trim the 
re-erected mote was probably levelled when the 
great twenty-sided donjon and extensive court- 
yard, the ruins of which are among the finest 
in Ireland, were constructed. Motes, or fortified 
hillocks of earth wholly or partly artificial, are 

1 Un[e] mot[e] fist cil jeter 

Pur ses enemis grever. 

Song, 11. 3178-9. 


found in considerable numbers in Ireland, but Motes the 
only in places to which the Normans are known wor ks 
to have penetrated at an early stage of the inva- ^ormin 
sion. Indeed, nearly every undoubted example castles - 
can be shown to be either at a known castle- 
site, or actually connected with subsequent 
castle buildings, or, where no early castle is men- 
tioned or can be detected, at what appears to 
have been the seat of an early Norman manor. 
They are usually from about twenty to forty 
feet in height, with very steep sides, and with 
a flat space on the summit from about thirty to 
a hundred feet across. At the base of the mote, 
and separated from it by its encircling ditch, is 
frequently found an enclosure (bawn, bailey, or 
courtyard), sometimes also artificially or natur- 
ally raised, and varying in shape and size and 
defences with the configuration of the ground 
or the needs of the builder. If not sufficiently 
protected by the natural or artificial steepness 
of the ground outside, this enclosure is usually 
guarded by an earthen rampart and outer ditch, 
the latter generally communicating with the ditch 
round the mote, and the whole fortress is some- 
times surrounded by an additional outer rampart. 

We have only to imagine one of the motes Wooden 

Q.P 16 II OPS 

bearing on its flat summit a loop-holed and battle- 
mented tower of wood, and girt round its upper 
edge by a stout palisade, and the earthen ram- 
parts below similarly bearing wooden defences 


and enclosing the buildings in the bailey, to 
obtain a picture of the type of castle first erected 
by the Normans in Ireland. But indeed the 
picture has been already drawn for us on the 
Bayeux Tapestry a century before the time of 
which we write, when castles of the same type 
were erected by the same race in somewhat 
similar conditions in England. The tower on 
high, the forerunner of the donjon keep, was 
connected with the bailey either by a light plank 
bridge of steps spanning the ditch at a steep 
incline, or by a stepped way borne by the inner 
rampart of the bailey, which in this case was 
carried across the ditch and up the slope of the 

Partly by documentary evidence, but mainly 
by evidence of an archaeological nature, this 
type of castle has been shown to have been 
almost universally adopted by the first Norman 
invaders of Ireland. Except in the case of 
' promontory fortresses ', such as those already 
described at Baginbun and Carrick on Slaney, 
where a mote would not be required, and indeed 
would be difficult to erect, and in a few cases 
where an isolated rock formed a ready-made 
substitute, a mote, as above described, has been 
proved to exist, or to have formerly existed, at 
nearly every known early castle site. 1 

1 The writer has examined this subject and adduced 
evidence to the above effect in the following papers : ' Mote 


Such a castle required little skilled labour, and 
only materials easy to obtain, but when com- 
pleted it would afford a sure refuge in case of 
a sudden attack, and from the high-placed tower 
a handful of archers could keep an unarmoured 
host for some time at bay. The wooden 
materials, however, were liable to be burnt, if 
the attackers were numerous enough and suffi- 
ciently daring to get near. Hence we often 
read of the burning of these early castles, and as 
often of their rapid reconstruction. Gradually, 
and as opportunity occurred, the woodwork was 
in many cases replaced by stone towers and 
stone walls, but the original plan was in general 
substantially retained. 

The passage summarized above from the Song 
of Dermot indicates further how it was that the 
Irish, in spite of their vast superiority in num- 
bers, and even when united, could not hold their 
country against the invaders, and how it was that 
the invaders, on the other hand, failed to make 

'and Bretesche Building in Ireland/ Eng. Hist. Rev., 1906, 
pp. 417-44 ; ' Motes and Norman Castles in Ireland,' 
ibid. 1907, pp. 228-54 and 440-67 ; ' Motes and Norman 
Castles in Ireland,' Journ. Roy. Soc. Antiquaries, Ireland, 
1907, pp. 123-52 ; ' Motes and Norman Castles in County 
Louth,' ibid. 1908, pp. 241-69 ; ' Motes and Norman Castles 
in Ossory,' ibid. 1909, pp. 313-42 ; also in monographs on 
the mote-castles of Foderedunolan, Athlone, Newcastle 
Mackynegan, Castlekevin, Killeedy, Shanid, Knockgraffon, 
Street, Ardowlan, and Castlelost. And see Map, infra, vol. ii. 


their conquest complete. Without armour and 
with inferior weapons and discipline, the Irish, 
however numerous and however brave, could not 
face the death-dealing bolts of the crossbowmen 
or the charge of ironclad knights in the open 
field. They could only make a raid, burn, 
plunder, and retreat. The Normans, on the 
other hand, even if they overtook the retreating 
forces, could not adequately punish a foe that 
immediately dispersed among the woods and 
Reprisals Next year (1175) the Normans appear to have 

inMeath. , • • ™ , • , • • i 

been active in Meath m making reprisals on the 
chieftains who took part in the hosting of the 
previous year. Thus we learn that they hanged 
Manus O'Melaghlin at Trim. 1 Probably he was 
tried and condemned as a traitor for the part he 
had played. They plundered Clonard and Dur- 
row, and made raids into the territories of certain 
chieftains in West Meath who appear to have 
joined in Rory's hosting. 2 Indeed, the whole 
country from Athlone to Drogheda is said to 
have been laid waste by them. 3 Besides re- 
building the castles of Trim and Duleek, they 

1 Ann. Tigernach, Four Masters, 1175. Art O'Melaghlin, 
on the other hand, appears to have been left in possession of 
West Meath or part of it. Three years later the Normans 
aided him in maintaining his position : ibid. 1178. 

2 e.g. the Muintir Mail Sinna, whose chieftain, Mac 
Carrghamhna, is mentioned in the Song (1. 3255) under the 
form Macgarragan. 3 Ann. Tigernach, 1175. 


erected castles at other places. From about 
this period we may date the complete occupation 
of East Meath and probably of part of West 
Meath as well. 

Rory 0' Conor did not make any effort this 
year to interrupt the re-settlement of Meath. 
As we shall see, he was now prepared to accept 
the domination of the foreigners both in Leinster 
and in Meath, and in the autumn was related to 
them by way of alliance and not of hostility. 

About the 1st of October 1175 an expedition Expedi- 
was organized by Raymond against Donnell Limerick. 
O'Brien, King of Thomond. Strongbow must 0ct1175 - 
have desired to avenge the defeat at Thurles in 
the previous year, and may have authorized the 
expedition, but Raymond the constable was 
in sole command, and the earl himself appears 
to have been absent in England. 1 According 
to our best and most explicit Irish authority for 
the period, this seemingly rash expedition was 
undertaken ' at the invitation of Rory 0' Conor, At 
King of Ireland,' and Raymond was assisted by invita- 
the Connaughtmen, who ' burnt the greater part tIon * 

1 Giraldus, v. 321, gives the day of the month, and the 
Irish annals supply the year. If the date thus arrived at, 
October 1, 1175, be correct, it would seem that the earl was 
absent from Ireland, for Richard de Striguil was a witness 
to two of Henry's charters dated at Marlborough and 
Feckenham in this year, and the Marlborough charter, at 
any rate, seems to have been correctly placed in October 
1175 ; Eyton's Itin., p. 196. but cf. Feudal England, p. 510. 


of Thomond 'J 1 This action of the ard-ri may 
at first sight seem improbable, but there is really 
no reason why we should doubt its occurrence. 
It was indeed in exact accordance with a pro- 
vision in the Treaty of Windsor, just at this time 
being signed. We have; moreover, repeated ex- 
amples of the kings of Connaught, of Thomond, 
and of Desmond, as well as those of subordinate 
districts, seeking aid from the Norman knights 
to subdue their enemies both within and 
without their borders. Rory's invitation, more- 
over, throws much light on the situation and 
explains much. It detracts somewhat from the 
hazardous nature of the expedition, and from 

1 Ann. Tigernach, 1 175. The whole entry is thus rendered 
by Stokes : ' A hosting by Ruaidri Hua Conchobair into 
Thomond, and he banished Domnall Hua Briain into 
Ormond, and gave the kingship of Thomond to the son of 
Murchad Hua Briain to his own mother's son. At the 
invitation of the King of Ireland, Ruaidri Hua Conchobair, 
the Foreigners of Dublin and Waterford and Domnall Hua 
Gillapatraic, King of Ossory, came to Limerick, without being 
perceived by the Dal Cais, and plundered Limerick ; and 
on this expedition the Connaughtmen burnt the greater 
part of Thomond.' The entry in the Four Masters, rendered 
in the same phraseology, would run as follows : ' A hosting 
by R. O'C. king of Ireland into Munster and he banished 
D. O'B. from Thomond, and on that expedition he greatly 
wasted the country.' It looks as if the Four Masters had 
adapted the commencement and the end of the entry in the 
earlier annals, while omitting all reference to the English ; 
and yet, except as regards Rory's invitation, we have ample 
corroboration of the part omitted. 


Raymond's glory, and therefore perhaps was not 
mentioned by the writers on the Norman side. 
But it shows that Raymond had not to fear the 
combination which wrecked Hervey's attempt, 
and indeed, as the event proved, had only 
the Ostmen of Limerick to contend with. The 
preceding paragraph in the Annals of Tigernach 
states that Rory 0' Conor made a hosting into 
Thomond, and banished Donnell O'Brien, and 
gave the kingdom to the son of Murrough O'Brien, 
his own mother's son. 1 The immediate occasion 
of this expulsion may have been the violent 
conduct of Donnell O'Brien, who earlier in the 
year had blinded Dermot, son of Teig O'Brien, 
and Mahon, son of Turlough O'Brien, both of 
whom were descended from senior branches of 
the house. But this was by no means an unusual 
precaution to take, and, as Rory's own hands 
were not clean in this respect, it is perhaps more 
probable that his animosity was aroused by the 
killing of his kinsman, the son of Lethderg 
O' Conor, effected by O'Brien on the same day. 
At any rate, the hereditary feud between the 

1 In Four Masters, 1168, it is stated that Murtough (then 
slain), son of Turlough O'Brien (ob. 1167), was son of Rory 
O'Conor's mother. This seems to indicate that at one time 
Turlough O'Brien had to wife the same lady as at some 
other time was wife of his great enemy, Turlough O'Conor 
(ob. 1156). The above Murrough must have been brother to 
Murtough. Rory O'Conor was imprisoned by his father 
as early as 1136 and again in 1143. 


O' Conors and the O'Briens was repeatedly 
breaking out, and contributed in no small degree 
to the ultimate loss of both kingdoms. 
The cap- Raymond's expedition, then, was undertaken 
Limerick, in favourable circumstances. His force con- 
sisted of 120 knights, 300 mounted archers, and 
400 on foot. They assembled in Ossory, where 
O'Brien's old enemy, Donnell Mac Gillapatrick, 
undertook to guide them to Limerick. They 
reached the city in safety, but it ' was surrounded 
by a river, a wall, and a fosse, so that no man 
could pass over except by a treacherous ford '. 
As Gerald recounts the story, the honours of the 
day were all with his kinsfolk, but indeed he is 
substantially supported by the Song. First of 
all, David of Wales, a nephew of Raymond, 
without waiting for orders from his uncle, who 
was in the rear, rode his horse into the stream, 
and, crossing obliquely, was carried safely over. 
As, however, only one man followed him, the 
two proceeded to return, when his unfortunate 
follower was swept away by the impetuosity of 
the current. Next Meiler Fitz Henry outdid his 
kinsman's exploit by riding across and holding 
his ground on the other side in spite of enemies 
on the bank and missiles showered on him from 
the walls of the town. Attracted by the shouts, 
Raymond now came up, and, seeing Meiler's 
peril, animated his men to essay the ford. Then 
plunging into the stream he led the whole force 


across without much loss, stormed the walls, 
and captured the town. ' It was a glorious vic- 
tory,' and called forth a rhapsody from Gerald, 
but, like many another, it led to nothing. For 
the moment, however, all went well. Raymond 
provisioned and garrisoned the town, and having 
placed it in the custody of his cousin, Milo Fitz 
David, he returned with the rest of his force to 
Leinster. 1 

While Raymond was conducting this brilliant ^. ea *> r ° f 
expedition to Limerick, Rory O' Conor was send- Oct. 6, 
ing envoys to Henry to arrange a treaty of peace. 
These envoys were Catholicus, Archbishop of 
Tuam, Canthordis, Abbot of St. Brandon, and 
Master Laurence, described as chancellor of 
the King of Connaught. They found the king 
at Windsor, where, on the 6th of October 1175, 
in the presence of the council and of Laurence 
0' Toole, Archbishop of Dublin, the treaty was 
signed. By this treaty Henry ' granted to Rory, 
his liege man, King of Connaught, as long as 
he should faithfully serve him, that he should 
be king under him, prepared to do him service as 
his vassal ; and that he should hold his land 
(of Connaught) well and peaceably, as he held it 
before his lord the King of England entered 
Ireland, rendering to him tribute '. As to the 
rest of the land and its inhabitants, Rory was to 

1 Gir. Camb. v. 320-3, 326 ; Song of Dermot, 1. 3370 
ad finem. 


be overlord, and was to enforce the payment of 
tribute and due obedience to the English Crown, 
and for this purpose, if necessary, to call for the 
assistance of the king's constable and troops ; 
and the annual tribute to be paid as well for 
Connaught as for the rest of the land was to be 
the tenth merchantable hide. The treaty was, 
however, subject to this proviso, that Rory was 
not to interfere with the lands which the king 
retained in his dominion and in the dominion of 
his barons, namely Dublin, Meath, ■ as fully as 
Murrough O'Melaghlin held it,' Wexford with 
the whole of Leinster, and Waterf ord with all the 
land between it and Dungarvan. The Irish who 
had fled were to return to the land of the king's 
barons in peace, and, at the will of their lords, 
either pay tribute or perform their accustomed 
services for their lands ; and if any refused, 
Rory, at the requisition of their lords, was to 
compel them to return. And the King of 
Connaught was to take hostages from all who 
were committed to him, and to give hostages to 
the King of England. 1 

1 Gesta Hen,, vol. i, p. 101-3 ; Rog. Howden, vol. i, 
pp. 83, 84. It is probable that Strongbow had been sum- 
moned to the king with reference to this treaty. He was 
in the king's entourage at Marlborough, apparently in this 
month. See note, p. 345, supra. 

At this council Henry appointed Augustin, an Irishman, to 
the vacant see of Waterf ord, and sent him to Ireland with the 
archbishops of Dublin and Cashel to be consecrated : ibid. 

;trongbow, lord of leinster 351 

How little we can trust references in the Irish Irish 
Annals to political dealings between England 
and Ireland may be exemplified by the only ac- 
count of this treaty preserved by them. ' Cadla 
O'Dufly (Catholicus, Archbishop of Tuam) came 
out of England from the Son of the Empress, 
having with him the peace of Ireland and the 
kingship thereof, both Foreigner and Gael, to 
Rory 0' Conor, and to every provincial king his 
province from the King of Ireland, and their 
tributes to Rory.' x Had the text of the treaty 
not been preserved, what should we make of 
this extraordinary account ? 

But this treaty was not workable. It was The 
ostensibly based on the supposition that Rory unwrk- 
O' Conor was a king in Ireland in the same able * 
sense that Henry was a king throughout his domi- 
nions across the water, able to rule and enforce 
obedience to his mandates. But we cannot 
imagine Rory 0' Conor collecting tribute for the 
Saxon king from the chieftains of Ulster or from 
Donnell O'Brien, with whom he was at this 
moment at war, and restraining them from 
rebellion and disloyalty to the English Crown! 
Probably the endeavour to collect tribute for 
this purpose from his own subordinate chieftains 

. x Ann. Tigernach, 1175. This entry is repeated in the 
Dublin copy of the Annals of Inisf alien. The other annals, 
including the Four Masters, take no notice of the treaty 



in Connaught was the cause of his subsequent 
unpopularity. 1 As the next few years showed, 
Rory was not able to enforce obedience to himself 
even from his own sons. 2 If any attempt was 
to be made to enforce the terms of this treaty, 
assuredly the king's constable and the king's 
troops would have to be repeatedly requisitioned. 
Raymond Raymond, though a successful general, and the 
darling of his soldiers, had an enemy at home. 
Hervey de Montmorency, we are told, though 
he had recently allied himself with the Geraldines 
by marrying Nesta, daughter of Maurice Fitz 
Gerald, actuated by envy and malice, sent 
messengers to Henry, asserting that Raymond 
was designing to secure not only Limerick, but 
all Ireland, for himself and his friends. 3 It is 
probable that Henry did not approve of Ray- 
mond's aggressive methods, which were sure to 
lead to disturbances. At any rate, early next 

1 That he did collect some tribute from Connaught ap- 
pears from the statement in the Annals of Loch Ce, 1186, 
that it was to Hugh de Lacy the tribute of Connaught was 

2 In 1177 Rory O'Conor's son, Murrough, brought Miles 
de Cogan and his knights to Roscommon 'to spoil Con- 
naught through hatred of his father '. The Connaught men, 
however, laid waste the country before the invaders and 
eventually drove them out : Ann. Ulster. This rebellion 
was unsuccessful, and Murrough was blinded by his father. 
Ten years later, however, as we shall see, Conor Mainmoy, 
another son, succeeded in expelling his father and ruling 
in his stead. 3 Gir. Camb., p. 327. 


year (1176) he sent four commissioners to recall 
Raymond, two of whom were to return with 
him, and the other two to stay in Ireland with 
the earl. 1 

Raymond was ready to obey the king's sum- Relief of 
mons when intelligence came from the garrison AprU lC 
he had left at Limerick that Donnell O'Brien 1176, 
with a large army was blockading the town, and 
that as their provisions were exhausted during 
the winter they were in need of immediate 
succour. The earl's troops refused to move with- 
out their favourite commander, so Raymond, 
with the approval of the king's commissioners, 
once more turned his standard towards Limerick. 
This time, in addition to his own band of 80 
men-at-arms, 200 retainers, and 300 archers, he 
had with him some Irish contingents under 
Murtough Mac Murrough of Okinselagh and Don- 
nell Mac Gillapatrick of Ossory, both of whom 
had definitively thrown in their lot with the 
invaders. 2 When on his way towards Cashel 
Raymond learnt that the men of Thomond had 
raised the siege of Limerick and had come to 
oppose him at ' the pass of Cashel '. 

The natural difficulties of this pass had been 

1 Gir. Camb., p. 328. Their names were Robert Poer, 
Osbert de Herlotera, William de Bendinges, and Adam de 
Gernemes (?) (perhaps • Gernemue ', Eyton's Itin.). 

2 Donnell of Ossory and Donnell of Thomond were bitter" 
foes. In the preceding year the son of the former was 
treacherously slain by the latter :. Four Masters, 1175. 

1226 z 


increased in the usual Celtic manner by felling 
trees, digging ditches, and running a strong 
barricade across it. Raymond divided his little 
band into three squadrons, and Donnell of 
Ossory, seeing how few they were, though well 
armed, warned them that unless they were vic- 
torious his Irish troops could not be trusted not 
to turn upon them. * For we Irishmen,' he said, 
J ever side with the winners, and fall upon those 
who flee.' Then Meiler, who led the first 
squadron, threw himself with his men like a 
mighty whirlwind into the pass, tore down the 
barricade, and clove a path with the sword 
through all who resisted him. This was on 
Easter Eve (April 3). On the following Tuesday 
the triumphant force entered Limerick. 1 
Parley Raymond stayed at Limerick to repair the 

O'Conor damage sustained during the siege, and shortly 
oWen. afterwards met Rory O'Conor and Donnell 
O'Brien in a parley, on the same day, but not 
in the same place. These two kings, it seems, 
were not yet at peace with one another. Rory 
had a fleet on Lough Derg, and at the close of 
the last year had laid Ormond waste and exacted 
hostages from the O'Briens of that district. 2 
Now he came down Lough Derg in one of his 

1 Gir. Camb. v. 329-30. Raymond approached Limerick 
via Cashel probably because he had joined Donnell Mac 
Gillapatrick somewhere in Ossory. 

2 Ann, Tigernach, 1175. 


ships, and anchored near the lower end of the 
lake. Donnell encamped not far off on the 
western side of the river, on the skirts of a wood. 
Raymond took up his position between the two, 
a little north of Killaloe. A long three-cornered 
parley followed, which resulted in both princes 
giving hostages and solemnly swearing to be 
faithful in future to the English king. 1 The 
Irish annals are silent about Raymond's inter- 
vention between the two kings, but they state 
that about this time Donnell made peace with 
Rory, and gave him hostages. 2 Raymond was, 
no doubt, acting under directions given him by 
Henry's commissioners, and he seems to have 
been actually carrying out the terms of the 
Treaty of Windsor, by which the King of Con- 
naught was to receive hostages from all who were 
committed to him, and himself to give hostages 
to the King of England. 

When Raymond returned with his hostages Mac 
to Limerick, he received envoys from Dermot se *eksaid 
Mac Carthy, King of Desmond, imploring aid, as ^™ ond 
a liege vassal of the King of England, against his 
eldest son, Cormac Liathanach, who had de- 
prived him of his kingdom and thrown him into 
prison, and promising large gifts to Raymond 
as well as pay to his troops. Raymond accord- 
ingly led his victorious standards towards Cork, 
and by his aid Dermot Mac Carthy recovered 
1 Giraldus, p. 331. 2 Ann. Tigernach, 1176. 



his kingdom. 1 Thus were the forces of the 
crown from time to time requisitioned, but in 
this case not exactly as proposed by the Treaty 
of Windsor. 
News of In the midst of these triumphs came the 
Strong- alarming news that Strongbow was dead. In 
conveying this intelligence to Raymond, 
great precautions were taken lest it should get 
abroad. The messenger, himself ignorant of 
its contents, bore a letter from Basilia con- 
taining this enigmatic sentence : ' The great 
jaw tooth which has troubled me so much has 
just dropped out. Wherefore, if thou hast any 
regard for me or even for thyself, delay not 
thy return.' This letter was privately read 
to Raymond by a clerk of his household, and 
Raymond, though he probably could not read, 
was shrewd enough to guess that the falling out 
of the tooth signified the death of the earl, who 
he knew was suffering from a serious illness. 
He had, in fact, died from blood-poisoning of the 
foot about the end of May, 2 but from fear of a 
rising among the Irish everything was done to 
conceal the fact until Raymond's return with his 

1 Giraldus, p. 331 ; cf. Ann. Tigernach, 1176 (followed 
by the Four Masters), where, however, Raymond is not 

2 Ralph de Diceto, vol. i, p. 407, says April 5 ; Giraldus 
(p. 332) says ' circa Kalendas Junii ', and this is probably 
more correct. William Fitz Audelin was with the king up 
to the end of May : Eyton's Itin., pp. 203^4. 


troops. In this emergency Raymond hastened 
back to Limerick, and took counsel with the 
most discreet of his household. It was agreed 
that in view of the earl's death, and Raymond's 
imminent departure for England, it would be 
necessary to give up for the present the attempt 
to hold a town so remote and so surrounded by 
enemies as Limerick, and withdraw the whole 
force to protect the coast-towns and the castles Evacua- 
of Leinster. As a last resource, then, Raymond Limerick, 
committed the custody of the town to Donnell 
O'Brien, as though to a baron of his lord the 
King of the English, and Donnell gave fresh 
hostages and took new oaths to preserve the 
town uninjured, to restore it at the king's com- 
mand, and to keep the peace. Nevertheless, the 
garrison had hardly evacuated the place when 
Donnell broke down the bridge and fired the 
town. 1 Never again, if he could help it, would the 
old Danish walls afford protection to foreigners ! 
O'Brien may have been false to his repeated 
oaths of fealty, but he grimly held to this 
resolve, and, while he lived, never again did the 
English hold the city of Limerick. When Henry 
heard the whole story he is reported to have 
said, with insight at once generous and sound : 
' Brilliant was the assault of Limerick, more 
brilliant still its relief, but only in its evacuation 
was there wisdom. 5 

1 Gir. Camb. v. 332-3. 


When Raymond and his men reached Dublin, 
Richard of Striguil was buried in the church 
of the Holy Trinity, and Archbishop Laurence 
0' Toole performed the obsequies with due 
strong- As far as we can judge from the somewhat 
death a scanty indications which the facts as known to 
Ireland. us afford, the untimely death of the Earl of 
Striguil was a real misfortune, not only for 
the Anglo-Norman colony, but for Ireland. If 
Ireland was to benefit by Norman rule and 
Norman organization, and by the higher civiliza- 
tion and greater industrial energy of the new 
colonists, there was needed a man whom the other 
colonists would recognize as being, by birth, 
antecedents, and abilities, their natural superior. 
It was not a soldier that was wanted, nor even 
a general capable of conducting extensive mili- 
tary operations, but a statesman actuated by the 
single purpose of making the Norman rule a 
success. Richard de Clare came of an illustrious 
house, had thrown in his lot with Ireland, had 
wedded an Irish wife, and his whole future 
depended on the success of his undertaking. It 
was not so with the court-official who followed 
him. Moreover, to judge by the earl's success 
in winning over most of the chieftains of Leinster 
to acquiesce in the Norman settlement, which 
he did (after showing his strength) more by per- 
suasion and reasonable treatment than by the 



sword, 1 he was the man best fitted to carry on 
the work of pacification. 

This, it is scarcely needful to say, was not the 
opinion of the native annalists. Their feeling 
towards Strongbow is plain from their ascribing 
his death to ' the miracles of Brigit and Colum- 
cille and the other saints whose churches he had 
destroyed.' But the native annalists not un- 
naturally fathered on Strongbow the evils which 
they deemed to have arisen from the English 
intervention in general. To him personally 
they do not ascribe any act of treachery or bad 
faith, or even of unusual severity, and with the 
exception of the revolt of the Ostmen of Water- 
ford, Leinster, under his rule when viceroy and 
for many years afterwards, appears to have 
been quiet and prosperous. 

The fine monument consisting of the recum- strong- 
bent effigy of a mail-clad knight still existing tomb, 
in the cathedral of the Holy Trinity (or, as it 
is commonly called, Christ Church), and known 
as Strongbow's Tomb, was not originally erected 
to Strongbow. An ancient inscription inserted 

1 Thus Murtough McMurrough and Donnell Kavanagh 
of Okinselagh, Donnell Mc Gillapatrick of Ossory, and 
Donnell Mc Gillamocholmog of the vale of Dublin, all seem 
to have had territory given to them and to have acquiesced 
in the Anglo-Norman settlement. See too the list of 
Leinster chieftains stated in the Song (11. 3208-21) to have 
given hostages to Strongbow and to have been on his side. 
O'Toole is the only important king not mentioned. 


in the wall of the south aisle records the fact 
that the original monument was broken by the 
fall of the roof and body of Christ Church in 
the year 1562, and though the inscription goes 
on to state that the monument was set up again 
in 1570 by Sir Henry Sidney, Lord Deputy of 
Ireland, there can be little doubt that the 
effigy of another knight was substituted for that 
of Strongbow. The existing effigy was never 
broken, and the arms exhibited on the shield are 
not those of the de Clares. 1 It appears that it 
was customary to provide in legal documents for 
the payment at Strongbow' s tomb of moneys 
due, and therefore, lest debtors should go free 
and the bonds of society be broken, it was 
necessary to provide for the continued existence 
of the tombstone. 

Beside this tombstone is a smaller one, which 
as long ago as 1584 was described as the effigy 
of a youth cut in two and supporting his entrails 
with both his hands. About it a foolish legend 
is told that it represents Strongbow' s son, 
who, it is said, was cut in two by his enraged 

1 This appears to have been first noticed by Sir Richard 
Colt Hoare in his Tour in Ireland 1806, p. 14, note, where 
he describes the arms on the monument as ' Argent, on a chief 
azure, three crosses crosslets fitchee of the field ', while the arms 
of the de Clares were Gules, three chevronels or. On the seal 
of Strongbow's grant of Aghaboe the knight bears a shield 
with a field chevronee, from which the three chevronels of 
de Clare. are supposed by Boutell to have been derived. 


father for showing cowardice in the face of 
the foe. 1 The story is purely apocryphal, and 
probably owes its origin to a misconception of 
the design of the monument. In the writer's 
opinion the figure is that of a kneeling lady 
holding up the folds of her robe with her two 
hands and wearing a wimple round her face. It 
should be placed upright, and probably formed 
part of the side of a sepulchral monument, 
whether Strongbow's or another's. 

In a quite legitimate sense, however, we may 
regard Christ Church itself as a memorial of Christ 

. . Church a 

Strongbow. It is true that the fabric was memorial 
probably not completed until half a century bow™ 8 
after his death, and that in the course of the 
long years that have rolled over its head it has 
suffered from many disastrous accidents and 
changes until in our own days it was completely 
restored on the original lines through the 
munificence of a Dublin citizen ; yet there is 
reason to think that it was commenced under 
the auspices of Strongbow when viceroy in 
Dublin ; and, even if this cannot be demon- 
strated, it was certainly among the first of the 
many splendid fanes which owed their origin 
to the energy, taste, and munificence of the 
Anglo-Norman colony of which Strongbow was 
the pioneer and chief. 

1 By Richard Stanihurst, De rebus in Hibernia gestis 
(Antwerp, 1584), pp. 171-3. 


The first foundation of a church dedicated to 
the Holy Trinity on the same site must indeed 
be ascribed to a much earlier time. It was 
certainly in existence when the Normans came, 
and had been richly endowed both by Irish 
kings of Leinster and by Scandinavian lords of 
Dublin. 1 A late, and in some respects clearly 
legendary, account of its origin is given in an 
entry in the Black Book of Christ Church. 2 
The foundation is there ascribed to c Sitruic, 
son of Ableb ', meaning thereby Sitric, son of 
Olaf, who was lord of Dublin at the time of 
the battle of Clontarf. No part of this building, 
however, remains. Certain architectural features 
in the crypt, which runs under the whole building 
except the western bay of the nave, are pro- 
nounced by the competent authority of Mr. 
Street, the architect employed at the recent 
restoration, to be at the earliest of very late 
Romanesque character, or of about the end of 
the twelfth century ; and though these features 

1 See the confirmation grant by Laurence, Archbishop of 
Dublin, c. 1178, Cal. Christ Church Deeds, No. 364 (a), and 
that by King John, Mar. 6, 1201, ibid., No. 364 (c), and 
Chart. Priv. et Immun., p. 12. From the latter we learn 
that gifts were made to the church by the following kings of 
Leinster : Donchad m. Domnail Remair, si. 1089, F. M. ; 
Enna MacDonchada, ob. 1126, F. M. ; and Diarmaid Mac 
Murchada, ob. 1171 ; as well as by Sitric son of Olaf and 
the sons of Thorkil. 

2 Cal. Lib. Niger, Proc. R. I. A., xxvii (c), p. 69. 


do not appear in the eastern part, Mr. Street con- 
sidered that no long period elapsed between the 
commencement of the crypt and its completion. 
Whatever church existed on the site before the 
time of the English invasion was, he concludes, 
entirely removed in order to provide the neces- 
sary foundations for one on so large a scale. 
The choir and transepts were no doubt the first 
portions built above ground. The original choir 
was, however, replaced in the middle of the 
fourteenth century by a much longer structure. 
This was pulled down in 1871, and the present 
eastern termination built on what appears to 
have been the original lines. The form of the 
original choir was inferred from the plan of 
the crypt, which has a semicircular apse, round 
which the aisle is continued, and east of which 
are three small square-ended chapels, and with 
this the two western arches of the choir, which 
had not been disturbed, agreed. Now the entry 
in the Black Book before referred to (as 
calendared) goes on to state that Archbishop 
Laurence, Richard, Earl of Striguil, Robert Fitz 
Stephen, and Raymond le Gros, ' built the choir, 
with bells and two chapels, viz. of St. Edmund, 
king and martyr, 1 of St. Mary, called Alba, and 

1 This dedication was probably suggested by the great 
victory near St. Edmunds on October 17, 1174, to which 
the royal troops, including Robert Fitz Stephen and many 
of the barons of Ireland, marched ' praeferentes sibi vexillum 


St. Laud, and gave St. Michael's church for 
the Mensa.' Taking this tradition in connexion 
with the architectural evidence, it is probable 
that while Strongbow was viceroy a commence- 
ment was made to rebuild the old Norse 
cathedral. The choir, bell tower (blown down 
in 1316), and two eastern chapels were first 
erected, and of course the crypt underneath 
this portion of the church. The transepts 
which still remain belong to the transitional 
period, and were probably built very little later. 
Early in the next century the nave, which is 
Early English in style, was erected — all except 
the western bay, which appears to have been 
built, ' in order to lengthen and enlarge the 
church,' after the year 1234. 1 To restore the 
building as nearly as might be to its appearance 
at about this time was Mr. Street's professed 
aim, and, though he has not escaped criticism, 
the result is a small but beautiful structure 
with a continuity of existence from the days 
of Strongbow, and one of which all citizens of 

Beati Eadmundi regis et martyris ' : Gesta Hen. i. 61, and 
cf . Song of Dermot, 11. 2946-79, and ante, p. 327, note 1. 
This coincidence, which has hitherto escaped notice, seems 
to confirm the entry in the Black Book. Cf . note p. 366. 
1 Rot. Pat. 18 Hen. Ill, m. 4. This record gives us the 
date of the final completion of the nave. The choir and 
transepts must have been completed in the early years of 
the Anglo-Norman occupation, perhaps about 1178, the 
probable date of Archbishop Laurence's confirmatory grant. 


Dublin who care for historical associations may 
be justly proud. 

Another foundation which may with even The 
greater confidence be ascribed to Strongbow, Q f Kii-* 
though no remains of it exist to-day, is the mainham - 
Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem at Kilmain- 
ham, close to Dublin, on the west. Strongbow's 
charter is, unfortunately, not forthcoming, but 
the early title of the Knights Hospitallers here, 
commencing with Strongbow's grant of all the 
land of Kilmainham, was established in some 
legal proceedings between them and the mayor 
and citizens of Dublin in the year 1261. 1 The 
first prior of Kilmainham appears to have been 
Hugh de Clahull, 2 probably brother of Strong- 

1 Hist, and Mun. Docs, of Ireland (Gilbert), pp. 495-9. 
Mr. C. Litton Falkiner, in a paper on the hospital (Proc. 
R. I. A., vol. xxvi (c), pp. 275-317), has, however, fallen into 
error in supposing that in the proceedings of 1261 the jurors 
■ found that Strongbow's grant was made prior to Henry 
the Second's charter of 1172 '. The charter to which they 
refer as subsequent to the grant to Kilmainham was one 
granted by Henry III (' dominus rex nunc ' ), that is to say, 
the Dublin charter of 1229 (Hist, and Mun. Docs, of Ireland, 
pp. 89-90), confirming, inter alia, John's charter of 1200 
(ibid., pp. 57-60), which conferred the liberties relied on by 
the mayor. They also found that soon after Strongbow's 
grant Hugh Tyrel of Castleknock granted to the prior 
Kilmehauok (printed Kylmehanok), a place on the north 
side of the Liffey, opposite Kilmainham. 

2 See list given by Mr. Falkiner, ubi supra, p. 316, and 
cf. Reg. St. Thomas's, pp. 370-1, where he is also called 
Hugh of Kilmainan. 


bow's marshal, John de Clahull, and the third 
prior from about the year 1200 was Maurice de 
Prendergast. 1 Though we cannot be quite sure, 
there seems to be no reason to doubt that he was 
the Maurice de Prendergast, one of the ' first 
conquerors ', of whom we have already heard 
much. The priors of Kilmainham sat as spiritual 
peers in the Irish parliament, and played an 
important part for upwards of three centuries 
in the civil and military history of Ireland. The 
site of the hospital was strategically important as 
an outpost of Dublin on its most vulnerable side. 

' St. Mary called Alba and St. Laud ' 
supra, p. 363. 

The anomalous entry in the Liber Niger as calendared, 
apparently recording the erection of two chapels to three 
separate saints, and the obscurity of the above dedications, 
led me to suspect that the second chapel was really dedi- 
cated to St. Mary of Alba Landa or Ty Gwyn, a Cistercian 
monastery at Whitland in Pembrokeshire, with which the 
invaders from South Wales must have been very familiar. 
The Rev. Dr. Lawlor, editor of the Calendar, has now, at my 
request, kindly transcribed the whole entry (itself a transcript) 
for me. The critical passage runs thus : ' . . . feceruntchorum 
ecclesie metropolitane cum campanili et duabus capellis 
viz. Sci Edmundi regis et martiris et [See or Bte] Marie que 
dicitur Alba et Sci Landi ' (sic). The spelling of this last 
name, which is quite distinct and is so printed by Dugdale 
(vi. 1148), confirms the suspicion that some scribe, when 
copying an earlier record, made two saints out of See Marie 
de Alba Landa. If de in the supposed original entry were 
misread dr = dicitur, the other changes would be almost 



Having now reached the death of the earl Extent of 
whose name is indissolubly linked with the mentat 
conquest of Ireland, it will be useful to pause j^° g " 
for a moment in our narrative and, so far as death - 
our limited vision permits, survey the nature 
and extent of the Anglo-Norman settlement 
in the country at this time. In spite of the 
occasional distant forays and expeditions we 
have noticed, this settlement, with the excep- 
tion of the Scandinavian towns of Dublin and 
Waterford and certain neighbouring districts 
reserved to the crown, was entirely confined to 
the limits of the ancient kingdoms of Leinster and 
Meath, that is to say, to the two great lordships 
of Richard de Striguil and Hugh de Lacy respec- 
tively. Indeed, at the date of the earl's death 
considerable portions of the districts indicated had 
not yet been parcelled out among ' the barons '. 

In the first place, then, certain lands were Lands 
appropriated or retained by the Crown. These to^the 6 
included Dublin and the greater part of the Crown - 
county of Dublin, and the whole littoral from 
Bray to Arklow. Also the town of Waterford 


and the adjoining district as far at least as 
Dungarvan. The district near Dublin had 
probably been dominated by the Norsemen of 
Dublin, and at any rate appears to have been 
excepted from Henry's grants to Richard de 
Striguil and Hugh de Lacy. Power was indeed 
given to Hugh de Lacy in his charter to deal 
with the lands about Dublin, but only while he 
was the king's bailiff, and only to enable him 
to perform the royal service at Dublin. 1 Some 
of these lands in the north of the county, which 
Hugh de Lacy had alienated contrary to the 
intention of this charter, were duly restored to 
their use as mensal lands of the viceroy by 
Philip of Worcester when he was sent to super- 
sede Hugh as representative of the crown in 
1184. 2 South of the city the territory of an 
Irish tribe or group of tribes ruled over by 
Mac Gillamocholmog lay in the vale of Dublin, 
or the low land between the Liffey and the 
mountains, and this chieftain, who sided with 
the Normans, was confirmed as a feudal owner 
probably in such part of his territory as he held 
in severalty. 3 The lands of the see of Dublin 

1 ' Et de incremento illi dono (i.e. the land of Meath) 
omnia feoda que prebuit vel que prebebit circa Duveliniam, 
dum Balivus meus est, ad faciendum mihi servitium apud 
civitatem meam Duvelinie.' 2 Gir. Camb. v. 359-60. 

3 His seat at Liamain (corruptly ' Limerun ', afterwards 
more correctly anglicized ' Leuan ', and eventually Lyons), 
was at first confirmed to him and then resumed and added 


were very extensive, and these were confirmed Church 

J lands. 

to Archbishop Laurence O'Toole. The principal 
archiepiscopal manors to the north of the river 
were Swords, Lusk, and Finglas, and to the 
south Clondalkin, Tallaght, Rathcoole, and 
Shankill. 1 The possessions of the see and 
abbacy of Glendalough were still more extensive, 
and seem to have included not only the moun- 
tainous districts of which Glendalough was the 
centre, but also much of the best lands on the 
skirts of the mountains. 2 Other lands, both 
north and south of the Liffey, belonged to Christ 
Church, Dublin, 3 and to the Cistercian Abbey of 
of St. Mary. 4 Of the remaining lands the king 
from time to time granted portions to various 
tenants in chief. One of the most considerable 
of these grantees was Walter de Ridelisford, to 
whom Brien (Bray) and other lands were granted 
by Earl Richard as representative of the Crown. 5 

to the royal manor of Newcastle Lyons. C. D. I., vol. i, 
569. His descendants retained a seat at Rathdown, co. 
Wicklow, for many generations. 

1 Crede Mihi, no. i. 

2 Ibid., nos. iii, xliv. The earliest confirmation of the 
lands of the abbacy was by Earl Richard as viceroy. It 
contains a long list of Irish names sicut mihi in verbo veritatis 
Diarmicvus rex testatus est. 

3 Calendar of Christ Church Deeds, nos. 1-6; 20th 
Rep., Deputy Keeper. 

4 Chart. St. Mary's Abbey, Dublin, vol. i, pp. 78-83, 138. 

5 Antiquissime litere patentes, no. 58. Perhaps ' Brien ' 
stands for ui Briuin Cualann, which included Bray. 

1226 Aa 


The land of Raheny, north of Dublin, was given 
by Strongbow to Vivien de Cursun. 1 He also 
gave on behalf of the king, and with the assent 
of the citizens of Dublin, to Saveric Sellarius 
(Sadler) of Exeter a burgage 'in front of the 
monastery of St. Mary [del Dam] within the 
city, having a frontage in the road which is over 
against the gate of the castle \ 2 This document 
is of particular interest as showing that there 
was a castle of some sort — probably a mote- 
castle — in Dublin at this time, and as indicating 
that its site is included in the present castle 
precincts. John, when Earl of Mortain, con- 
firmed to Almaric de St. Laurent ' the land of 
Houede (Howth) as his father held the same ', 3 
and the lands of Howth have been held by the 
St. Lawrences as barons and earls of Howth 
up to our own day. 

Finally, considerable portions were retained 
Royal and formed into royal manors. Those in the 
manors. va ] e f Dublin at the end of the century were 
Newcastle of Lyons, Saggart, Esker, and Crum- 
lin. 4 On the littoral south of Bray the tribe- 
land of ui Teigh (anglicized Othec or Othee), 

1 Chart. St. Mary's Abbey, Dublin, vol. i, p. 258. 

2 Reg. St. Thomas's, p. 369. The site of St. Mary's 
Church was afterwards occupied by Cork House. 

3 Rot. Cane. Cal. (Tresham), no. 16. 

4 For the Norman settlement in this district see a careful 
paper by Mr. James Mills (now Deputy Keeper of the 
Records) in the Journal R. S. A. I. 1894, pp. 161-75. 


early in the next century at all events, was 
dominated by the royal castle and manor of 
Newcastle Mc Kynegan. 1 Further south Wick- 
low Castle was for the time granted to Earl 
Richard, 2 and Arklow, a decade later, to 
Theobald Walter. 3 

The town of Waterford, as we have seen, was, Water- 
from the time of Henry's visit to Ireland, retained 
in the king's hand, and in 1177 ' the city with 
all the surrounding province ' as far as Lismore, 
was given into the custody of Robert le Poer, 
the marshal. 4 

The principal, indeed the only connected, Nature 
account of the sub-infeudation of the two evidence, 
great lordships of Leinster and Meath is con- 
tained in the Song of Dermot. We can, how- 
ever, test its accuracy in many ways. In a few" 
cases the original charters or trustworthy copies 
are forthcoming. In several cases we have 
transcripts of charters by the various feoffeea 
dealing with portions of the lands stated to 

1 See my paper on Novum Castrum McKynegan, Journ. 
R. S. A. I. 1908, p. 126. 

2 Gir. Camb. v. 298. The earl granted it to Maurice 
Fitz Gerald : ibid., p. 314. 

3 Arklow was probably given by John to Theobald 
Walter in 1185, or at any rate prior to 1189, when seisin of 
Leinster was given to William the Marshal; see Hist. 
Guill. le Marechal, 11. 9609-16, and reference to the original 
charter in Carte's Life of Ormond, Introd., p. xlvi. 

4 Gesta Hen., vol. i, p. 161. 

A a 2 


have been granted to them. Giraldus confirms 
the account in several particulars and mentions 
certain castles erected about five or six years 
afterwards on some of these manors ; and still 
later records show us the original feoffees or their 
representatives in possession of lands in the 
districts indicated. The Irish annals, too, 
record the erection of certain castles and con- 
tain a few confirmatory entries, while recent 
archaeological research has disclosed the exis- 
tence, or proofs of the former existence, of 
the earthworks of castles of the mote type 
at almost all the probable manorial centres. 
Thus the list of grants given in the Song is 
corroborated and supplemented in various ways, 
and has not been shown to be incorrect in any 
particular. With this list, then, as a basis, 
and supplementing it from all available sources, 
we can construct a rough survey of the primary 
distribution of the lands of Leinster and Meath 
as effected by Richard de Clare and Hugh de 
Lacy respectively. In this chapter we shall 
confine our view to the lordship of Leinster. 
Of course the effective occupation and exploita- 
tion of these lands took time, and to make the 
picture more complete and prove its general 
correctness we shall refer to some events which 
took place at a later period, but it will be our 
aim to deal with only those manors which 
originated with Earl Richard's grants. 


Unfortunately the Song, while recounting 
the earl's principal grants, does not state 
what places he retained as demesne lands and 
centres of his manors. We can only infer them Seignorial 
from incidental allusions in the Song and else- 
where, and from the better-known organization 
of the lordship at a later time. We have, 
indeed, a complete list of the seignorial centres 
at the time of the partition of Leinster among 
Strongbow's granddaughters in 1247, but in 
several cases these are known to have originated 
in escheats or to have been of later formation. 
Others, however, appear to have been in exis- 
tence at a very early period, and we shall men- 
tion such of these as may, in their origin, with 
probability be assigned to Strongbow's time. 

Wexford was the principal town of the 
lordship from August 1173, when Henry, who 
had annexed it, restored it to the earl, and the 
mote there, with which the walls were connected, 
and on which a stone castle was afterwards built, 
was perhaps Strongbow's work. 1 This was, no 
doubt, the seat of his most important manor 
in South Leinster, and the adjoining districts, 
especially the barony of Forth, appear to have 
been very fully colonized from the first, and 
mainly by Flemings and others from South 

1 Henry on leaving Ireland is said to have ordered a castle 
to be built at Wexford : Gesta Hen. i. 30. The mote may 
have been erected then. 


Wales. Ros (Old Ross), too, appears to have 
been the seat of a seignorial manor before the 
time of the elder Earl William Marshal, who 
established the port called, by way of distinc- 
tion, villa novi pontis or villa de Bosponte and 
eventually New Ross, and the mote at Old 
Ross probably represents Strongbow's castle. 
It was surrounded by a forest delimited by 
Richard Marshal. 1 We hear of the earl dwelling 
with his household troops at Kildabe, 2 and 
this was probably his principal seat in North 
Leinster. The castle-site there is on a rock, but 
we do not hear of a castle at Kildare in Strong- 
bow's time. The town of Carlow was also 
probably the seat of a manor of Earl Richard. 
He certainly does not appear to have parted with 
the place. A full charter was granted to the 
town by William Marshal [junior (?) circa 1225], 
from which it appears that the burgesses held 
under rents fixed before the close of the twelfth 
century. 3 It was a purely Anglo-Norman town, 

1 Chart. St. Mary's, Dublin, ii. 154. 

2 Song, 11. 2696, 2771, 2795. 

3 Chartae, &c, p. 37. This charter (absurdly ascribed 
to c. 1296) is almost identical mutatis mutandis with that 
granted by the elder William Marshal to Kilkenny prior 
to 1211 ; ibid., p. 33. From the names of the witnesses, 
however, I think it should be ascribed to WilHam Marshal 
the younger; cf. the witnesses to his charter to Kilkenny 
(ibid., p. 34) and to his grant transcribed in the Register 
of St. Thomas's, p. 118. 


and must have grown up under the protection 
of an early castle. The existing castle ruins, 
though of later date, are well situated at the 
confluence of the Burren and the Barrow. 

Probably, too, the rock fortress of Dunamase 
in Leix was retained by Strongbow. This no 
doubt was the site of the Celtic hill-fort called 
Dun Masg pillaged by the Northmen in 843. * 
The ruins of a late castle occupy the site, but 
in plan it is essentially of the mote and bailey 
type. The mote, however, was a natural rock 
precipitous on all sides but one, where there 
is a steep decline. The slope here was marked 
off by ditch and rampart into two, or perhaps 
three, baileys. The elder William Marshal 
claimed, and eventually succeeded in obtaining 
this castle from Meiler Fitz Henry, 2 and, as we 
shall see when we come to tell of the Earl 
Marshal's doings, it was probably on the ground 
that Dunamase was demesne land of Strongbow 
wrongfully retained by Meiler in collusion with 
King John. It was afterwards the principal 
seignorial stronghold in this division of Leinster. 3 

As we have seen, a mote-castle was erected 

1 Ann. Ulster, 843. 

2 Histoire G. le Marechal (Paul Meyer), 11. 14127-31 j 
and cf . Rot. Pat. 17 John, pp. 153 b, 161 b, 180. 

3 Cal. Docs. Ireland, vol. i, no. 2120. See too, Inquis. 
P. M., 11 Ed. I, on the lands of Roger le Mortimer: ibid., 
vol. ii, no. 2028. 


at Kilkenny prior to 1 173, when it was destroyed 
by Donnell O'Brien. 1 It was probably re-erected 
before the expedition to Limerick in 1175, but 
there is no clear indication of a developed manor 
here before the time of Earl William Marshal. 

It seems probable, too, that the motes of 
Odagh and Castlecomer, which appear as 
centres of already developed seignorial manors 
about the close of the twelfth century, should 
be attributed to Strongbow. The territory in 
which these motes are situated had been overrun 
by the invaders even in Dermot's lifetime, and 
it was at ' his court ' at Odagh that Strongbow, 
in 1171, had the parley with Donnell Mac 
Gillapatrick, chief King of Ossory, from which, 
as already mentioned, the king was conducted in 
safety by Maurice de Prendergast. 2 Either then 
or later, King Donnell appears to have submitted 
to Strongbow, and we find him assisting the 
invaders in the two expeditions to Limerick 
(1 175-6). 3 The mote at Kilkenny was probably 
erected with King Donnell' s assent, and he is 
generally believed to have been left in possession 
of the greater part of the central plain of 
Kilkenny up to his death in 1185. 4 The castle 

1 Supra, p. 322, and see my paper on ' Motes and Norman 
Castles in Ossory ', Journ. R. S. A. I. 1909. 

2 Supra, p. 236. 3 Supra, pp. 348, 353. 

4 Between 1181 and 1185 King Donnell made a grant 
of Kilferagh, near Kilkenny, to John Cumin, Archbishop of 
Dublin : Crede Mihi, no. xxxii. 


of the Comar, or confluence (Castlecomer), was 
at any rate erected before the year 1200, when 
it was burned by the O'Brennans. 1 

Thus it seems that not only the Norse town 
of Wexford, but also St. Brigit's Kildare, the 
confluence at Carlow, the rock fortress of Duna- 
mase, and St. Cainnech's Kilkenny, afterwards 
the five capita of the quinquepartite lordship 
of Leinster, were all selected by Strongbow as 
among the principal centres of his vast fief, and 
it is not improbable that the motes of Old Ross, 
Castlecomer, and Odagh were also his works. 

For Strongbow's principal grants we have The 
clear and positive evidence. Taking first the Minster* 
modern county of Kildare, which seems to have an d* heir 
been fully parcelled out among the earl's 
followers, we may describe it accurately enough 
for present purposes as being divided, at the 
time of the invasion, into three great tribal 
territories : Offelan in the north, Offaly (or 
rather part of that territory) in the middle, and 
Omurethy in the south. Giraldus speaks of 
three cantreds of Offelan, of which that farthest 
from Dublin was granted to Meiler Fitz Henry, 
the middle cantred to Maurice Fitz Gerald, and 
the cantred nearest to Dublin to the Hereford 
brothers. 2 The Song of Dermot and certain 
contemporary documents enable us to define 
these grants a little more closely. 

1 Liber Primus Kilkenniensis. 2 Gu\ Camb. v. 314. 


Meiier The earl's grants appear to have been as 

Hemy. follows : Carbury was granted to Meiier Fitz 
Henry. 1 This district is now represented by 
the barony of Carbury in County Kildare. It 
is the ' more remote cantred of Offelan ' stated 
by Giraldus to have been given to Meiier as 
a • marcher ' or border baron. 2 Meiier granted 
four carucates of land at ' Karebri ' to the abbey 
of Connell, 3 which he founded. The barony, 
together with all Meiier' s lands in Leinster, 
afterwards escheated to the Marshals, 4 lords 
of Leinster, and still later, in the fourteenth 
century, Carbury was in the possession of the 
Bermingham family and became known as c Ber- 
mingham's country *J The late Tudor castle 
of Carbury was built immediately adjoining 
a mote, which occupies a striking position on 
the summit of a hill. In all probability this 
mote represents the first Norman castle. 

' The cantred of Offelan nearest to Dublin ' 

1 Karebri donat al bon Meiier : Song, 1. 3084. 

2 Gir. Camb., p. 314. The ui Cairbre were, however, 
a distinct race from the ui Faelain : Topog. Poems, p. 76. 

3 C. D. I., vol. i, no. 273. This was in 1205. 

4 The * castle of Cabry ' was to be delivered to Gilbert, 
Earl of Pembroke, in 1234 : ibid., no. 2175. In 1249 the 
castle was assigned to Margaret, countess of Lincoln, widow 
of Walter, Earl Marshall : ibid. no. 2989. At the partition 
of Leinster ' Karberye ' went with Kildare. 

5 Ann. Clonmacnois, 1076 (translation by Connell Ma- 
geoghagan, 1627). Ann. Laud MS., Chart. St. Mary's, 
Dublin, vol. i, pp. 378, 396. 


was given to Adam de Hereford, 1 and this large Adam of 
district was divided between him and his 
brothers John and Richard. Adam de Hereford 
has already been mentioned as commander in 
the naval encounter with the Ostmen of Cork 
in 1173. He retained in his own hands Saltus 
Salmonis (or Leixlip), from which the barony of 
Salt obtained its name, and also Cloncurry and 
Oughterard. To his brother John he gave Kill, 
Kildrought (Celbridge), Clonshanbo, and Main- 
ham, including Rathcoffey ; and to his brother 
Richard he gave Downings in the barony of 
Otymy, now Clane, and Richard's son Henry 
was afterwards lord of Otymy. 2 

The present castle at Leixlip is situated on 
a high promontory at the junction of the Rye 
and the Liffey. There are motes at Cloncurry, 
Castlewarden near Oughterard, Kill, Mainham, 
and Clane. 

The middle cantred of Offelan (which in- Maurice 
eluded Naas) and the cantred of Wicklow Gerald. 
were given to Maurice Fitz Gerald for the service 
of twelve knights. 3 In 1185 John, dominus 

1 Gir. Camb., p. 314. The Song does not particularize : 

Adam de Erford ensement 

Donat riche feffement. (11. 3106-7.) 

2 These particulars are given in the Register of St. 
Thomas's, Dublin, pp. 102-4 ; cf . the grants by the brothers 
Hereford, ibid., pp. 75-89, 142-4, &c. 

3 There is a transcript of this deed (in some respects 
obviously corrupt) in the Gormanston Register, f . 190, where 


Hiberniae, confirmed this grant as regards 
the cantred of Offelan to William, son of 
Maurice Fitz Gerald, and his heirs (who were 
known as barons of Naas) to be held of the 
heirs of Earl Richard for the service of five 
knights. 1 

A few years later John confirmed to Gerald, 
son of Maurice Fitz Gerald, and ancestor of the 
barons of Offaly, earls of Kildare, and dukes of 
Leinster, the lands of Omolrov (?), Rathmore, 
Maynooth, Laraghbryan, Taghadoe, and Straf- 
f an, ' being the half -cantred which he held of the 
gift of William, son of Maurice, his brother.' 2 
The other half-cantred remained with the 
barons of Naas. There is a high mote in the 
town of Naas with a terrace surrounding the 

the parcels are : ' Wykingl[o] et totam cantredam in quo 
Wykingl[o] sedet excepta villa Erkeks (?) et comoto illo 
in quo villa Erkek sedet . . . cum his dedi etiam cantredam 
quern Makylan tenuit non propinquiorem Diuelin sed ab 
illo sfcilicet] propinquiorem (sic)'. Cf. Song, 11. 3086-95. 
Perhaps ' Erkek ' = Arklow, written Herkelou, Gesta, i. 163. 

1 Chartae Priv. et Immun., p. 5, where the parcels are : 
* Unum canteredum terre quern Makelan tenuit non pro- 
pinquiorem Duveline sed ahum scilicet in quo villa de Nas 
sita est.' Wicklow had been resumed by the Crown : Gir. 
Camb. v 337. 

2 Red Book of the Earl of Kildare. See transcript in 
Facsimiles National MSS. Ireland, vol. iii, pi. lx, and cf. 
Journ. R. S. A. I. 1879-82, p. 425. When I have no doubt, 
I give the modern forms of the names. There is also a 
mote at Rathmore, which seems to have been piled over 
a sepulchral mound. 


mote about ten feet below the top. This 
terrace is a feature not infrequently found. 
It probably carried a palisade for which after- 
wards, in some cases, a stone wall was sub- 

Offaly [or that part of Offaly lying] to the 
west of Offelan is said to have been granted to 
Robert de Bermingham. 1 This, taken literally, Robert de 
would include all that portion of King's County ham 011 
to the east of Tullamore ; but only a small 
portion of this district was at first taken from 
the 0' Conors Faly, and the original Berming- 
ham fief appears to have been confined to 
Tethmoy, of which they were known as barons. 
This district was comprised in the baronies of 
Warrenstown and the northern part of Cooles- 
town in King's County, 2 

Kildare and the adjacent territory [of Offaly] is 
said by Giraldus to have been given by the earl Meiier 
to Meiier Fitz Henry, but afterwards, in 1181, to Henry, 
have been taken from him, and the province of 
Leix given him by way of exchange. 3 It is possible 

1 Song of Dermot, 11. 3104-5 :— 

A Robert de Burmegam 
Offali al west de Offelan. 

2 Tethmoy is one of the numerous anglicized forms 
(Toumuy, Totemoy, &c.) of the Irish Tuath del mhuighe, 
i.e. the tuath or cantred of the two plains : Topog. Poems, 
p. 85, note 413. For the position of this district see the 
old map of Leis and Offalie, Journ R. S. A. 1. 1862-3, p. 345. 

3 Gir. Camb., p. 355. 


that such a grant may have been made shortly 
before the earl's death, and that Meiler may 
have founded a claim thereon which was after- 
wards a cause of his conflict with William the 
Marshal ; but there is good reason to think that 
during the earl's life Kildare was the principal 
manor of the lordship in North Leinster, 1 as it 
certainly was afterwards in the hands of the 
Marshals. 2 

An attempt was made by Meiler to gain 
a foothold in the territory of Leix thus given 
him in exchange. It was the tribe-land of the 
O'Mores, and from the greater portion of it they 
were not dispossessed. A castle was built for 
Meiler in 1182 by Hugh de Lacy at Timahoe, 3 
an ancient ecclesiastical centre, and half a mile 
west of the village is a mote, known as the 
Rath of Ballynaclogh, which probably represents 
Meiler's castle. 4 He also occupied and adapted 
the rock fortress of Dunamase, but eventually 
he gave this up to William the Marshal, and it 
became the principal manor of the Marshals in 

1 The earl after his various expeditions generally returned 
to Kildare as his head-quarters and abode : Song of Dermot, 
11. 2696, 2771, 2795. 

2 C. D. I., vol. i, nos. 1872, 1950. 

3 Gir. Camb., p. 356. 

4 It has a raised circular bailey, the earthen walls of which 
are carried up the mound, as was frequently done in stone 
when a stone keep was built on a mote. Both mote and 
bailey are surrounded by a fosse and outer rampart. 


the district of Leix. 1 East of Dunamase and 
adjoining the Barrow lies the barony of Reban. 
This was granted, probably by Earl Richard, Robert 
to Robert de St. Michael. 2 The family of Michael. 
St. Michael supplied barons of Reban up to the 
time of Elizabeth. 3 Here may still be seen the 
remains of the original mote and bailey, close to 
the later stone castle. A district called ' le 
Norrath ', a name now preserved in the barony 
of Narragh and Reban East, was granted to Fitz 
Robert Fitz Richard, 4 and a castle was built for 

1 Hist. Guil. le Marechal, 11. 14128-9 : 

Son boen chastel otreia, 
Donmas, al conte en heritage. 

M. Meyer, by a blunder pardonable in a foreigner, places 
this castle in the County Clare (ibid., vol. iii, p. 195, note). 

2 Robert de St. Michael witnessed Strongbow's grant of 
Aghaboe. He also witnessed a charter of his neighbour 
Robert Fitz Richard in the lifetime of Raymond le Gros : 
Chart. St. Mary's, Dublin, vol. i, p. 68. His son David 
de St. Michael married Margery, daughter of Thomas le 
Fleming, another neighbour, and granted the church of 
Reban to the abbey of St. Mary, retenta in manu nostra 
capellaria Castelli nostri de Riban (ibid., p. 115). This was, 
I think, before the close of the century. Margery was the 
widow of Robert de Bigarz, and after the death of David 
de St. Michael she married Roger Waspail (ibid., pp. 115, 
116, and C. D. I., vol. i, no. 1392). She had by her second 
husband, David, a son, Richard de St. Michael, who fined 
for his father's land in 1215 (C. D. I., vol. i, no. 673), and 
confirmed his father's gift to the abbey of St. Mary : Chart. 
St. Mary's, Dublin, vol. i, p. 121. 

3 Fiants, Eliz. (1582), no. 3882. 

4 Song of Dermot, 11. 3122-5. 

le Flem 


him apud Norrach in 1182 by Hugh de Lacy. 1 
In 1598 a Wesley (or Wellesley) was baronet of 
the Norragh. 2 

Oboy, a district lying between Timahoe and 
the Barrow in the barony of Ballyadams in 

Robert de Queen' s County, 3 was granted to Robert de 
Bigarz, and here a castle was built for him 
in 1182 by Hugh de Lacy. 4 Its exact site is 
a matter of some uncertainty. The manor 
afterwards reverted to the Marshals, lords of 
Leinster. 5 

Thomas Ardri was given to Thomas le Fleming. 6 
Ardree is now the name of a small parish of 
323 acres on the east side of the Barrow to the 
south of Athy. It was apparently here that 
a castle was built for Thomas Flandrensis by 

1 Gir. Camb., p. 356 ; cf . his grant, Reg. St. Thomas's, 
p. 228. 

2 Hogan's Ireland in 1598, p. 47; Car. Cal. 1596, p. 191. 

3 Oboy is an anglicized form of ui Buidhe. For the 
situation of this tribe see Book of Rights, p. 213, note. 

4 Gir. Camb., p. 356, apud Obowi. Tullomoy in the 
barony preserves the name : Tulach ua m-Buidhe. There 
is a fine mote at Kilmorony in this barony on the Barrow, 
and as it is not far from Ardri and separated from it by the 
Barrow, it may be the site of Robert de Bigarz's castle. 
See quotation from Giraldus under Ardri, infra. 

5 At the partition of Leinster ' Obboy ' was assigned 
along with Dunamase to Roger de Mortimer, husband of 
Maude de Braose, who was daughter of Eva Mareschal : 
Chart. St. Mary's, Dublin, vol. ii, p. 403. 

6 Song of Dermot, 11. 3112-13. 


Hugh de Lacy in 1181 ; * but the farm with the 
old castle site was given along with the church 
of Ardree to the abbey of St. Thomas by Milo 
de Stanton early in the thirteenth century. 2 At 
this time the manorial seat seems to have been 
at c Mon' (i.e. Moone or Moone Abbey), after- 
wards a seignorial manor. 

All the land between Oboy and Leighlin was 
granted by the earl to his marshal, John de Johnde 
Clahull. 3 This would cover the barony of 
Slievemargy in Queen's County. In 1181 a 
castle was built for John de Clahull above the 
Barrow, not far from Leighlin. 4 The site of 
this castle is probably marked by the mote of 

1 Gir. Camb. v. 356 ; c Castellum Thomae Flandrensi non 
procul ab hoc [Obowi] in ulteriore videlicet Omurethi parte, 
Beruensis fluminis interlabentibus undis (erexit). 

2 Reg. St. Thomas's, Dublin, p. 162. For a description 
of this site see Eng. Hist. Review (1907), p. 249. 

3 Song of Dermot, 11. 3100-3. That this was the situation 
of John de Clahull 's lands appears also from a charter by 
which John Cumin, Archbishop of Dublin, ad petitionem 
Johannis de Clahalla, domini fundi, during a vacancy of 
the see of Leighlin, instituted Thurstin, a cleric, to the 
moiety of the churches of Sancti Congani de Clunussi 
(St. Comgan of Glen Uissen or Killeshin), Sancti Patricii 
de Slefta (Sletty), Sancti Congalli de Catherloc (Carlow), 
Sancte Brigide de Clodahc (Cloydagh, a parish in the north 
of Idrone West), and Sancti Ganulni de Clonena (Cloneen ?) : 
Crede Mini, no. lv. This deed must be dated before the 
consecration of Herlewin, Bishop of Leighlin, c. 1201. 

4 Gir. Camb., p. 355. John de Clahull, marescallus, wit- 
nessed Strongbow's grant to Savaric Saddler of Exeter: 
Reg. St. Thomas's, Dublin, p. 369. 

1226 B b 


Killeshin. It is situated in a subdivision called 
Castle quarter, close to the old church of Killeshin. 
The mote is twenty-five feet high, is surrounded 
by a square fosse, and contains traces of a rect- 
angular building on the top. The tradition of an 
important Anglo-Norman town here, of which, 
except the mote and Celtic church, ' there is now 
[above ground] no trace,' has come down to our 
own times. 1 

Twenty knights' fees in Omurethi were 
Walter de granted to Walter de Ridelisford. 2 This was 
ford! 1S a large territory in the south of the County 
Kildare. A castle was erected for Walter de 
Ridelisford apud Tristerdermoth (Castledermot) 
in 1181. 3 In the early English versions of the 
Expugnatio, Kilcae or Kilca (i. e. Kilkea) is 
put instead of ' near Tristerdermoth ' as the 
place where Walter de Ridelisford's castle was 
built. 4 Kilkea was undoubtedly a manor of his, 
and here, close to the old church and later 
castle, is a mote. 

Passing now to the county of Carlow, the 

1 Coote's Survey of Queen's Co., p. 194 ; Ord. Surv, 
Letters Q. C, vol. i, p. 105. 

2 Song of Dermot, 11. 3096-9 ; Omurethi is the territory 
of ui Muireadhaigh, of which the O'Tooles were lords. 

3 Gir. Camb., p. 355. As to the castle site see Eng. Hist. 
Review, 1907, p. 248. 

4 The two earliest English versions have been published by 
the Early English Text Society (1896). Cf . Book of Howth 
Car. Cal., p. 98, and Bray's Conquest of Ireland, ibid., p. 309, 


districts of Fotherd (or Fotheret) and Odrone, Raymond 
together with Glascarrig on the east coast of 
Wexford near Cahore Point, were granted by 
Earl Richard to Raymond le Gros. Fotherd 
was given as a marriage portion with Basilia, 
The name is now preserved in the barony of 
Forth, but the ancient district granted to 
Raymond was more extensive, and included 
portions of the baronies of Rathvilly and Carlow 
as well. 1 A castle was built for Raymond at 
Fotheret Onolan in 1181, and this has been 
identified by means of contemporary charters 
with the mote of Castlemore near Tullow. 2 
Raymond's manor of Odrone 3 was comprised 
in the barony of Idrone East. Raymond seems 
to have granted this land to his nephew, William 
de Carew, who had vills at Dunlech (Dunleckny) 
and also at Techmulin (St. Mullins). 4 There are 
motes in both places. Glascarrig he appears to 
have granted to one of his Cantitune nephews, 
and here, too, a little north of the slight ruins 

1 Song of Dermot, 11. 3064-9. Fotherd, &c, represents 
the Irish Fotharta, of which there were several. This one 
was distinguished as Fotharta Fea or Fotharta Osnadhaigh. 
The ruling family was O'Nuallain (O'Nolan), hence the form 
in Giraldus and many Anglo-Norman charters. 

2 Gir. Camb., p. 355. For the identification of Ray- 
mond's Castle with Castlemore Mote, see Journ. R. S, A. I. 
1906, pp. 368-82. 

3 Odrone or Idrone represents the Irish Ui Drona, a tribal 
territory of which the O'Ryans were the ruling family. 

4 Chart. St. Mary's, Dublin, vol. i, p. 112. 

b b2 


of the priory, close to the sea, may be seen 
the mote which probably represents the Norman 

We have positive evidence of only two grants 
by Strongbow in Ossory, one at the north and the 
other at the south end of the ancient kingdom. 
Adamde In Upper Ossory the earl gave to Adam de 
Hereford ' half the vill of Achebo and the 
entire half of the cantred in which the vill is 
situated, as Dermot Ochelli (0' Caelaidhe) held 
the same in Ossory ', to hold in fee by the service 
of five knights. The original deed with the seal 
appended has happily been preserved among the 
Ormond Muniments. 1 

The cathedral church of the diocese of Ossory 
was at this time at Aghaboe, and the remaining 
half of the vill and half-cantred were perhaps 
see-lands. Early in the thirteenth century 
the see-lands of Aghaboe were transferred by 
Hugh de Rous, the first Anglo-Norman bishop of 
Ossory, to William, Earl Marshal, ' in exchange 
for others in more convenient places ' 2 — that is 
to say, nearer Kilkenny, the new episcopal seat, 
and at the time of the partition of Leinster 
Aghaboe was a very rich seignorial manor and 
was assigned along with Dunamase to Eva de 
Braose. It was one of the last places retained 

1 See transcript, Note A to this chapter. 

2 For Earl William's Charter, see Liber Albus Ossoriensis, 
Proc. R. I. A., vol. xxvii (c), p. 118. 


by the English in Upper Ossory, but in 1346 
Dermot Mac Gillapatrick, the one-eyed, burnt 
the vill of Aghaboe, including the church and 
shrine of St. Cainnech, 1 and three years later 
the castle was taken. 2 The castle site is marked 
by a square mote not far from the parish church, 
with foundations of a thick mortared wall round 
the top and traces of a wide fosse round the 

In the southern portion of Ossory the earl 
gave the extensive tribe-land of Iverk (Uibh 
Eire) to Miles, son of David, Bishop of St. Davids, Miles 
and he became the first of the line of barons of ]^ d 
Iverk. 3 Early in the thirteenth century his son 
David richly endowed the nunnery of Kilculli- 
heen, close to Waterford on the Kilkenny side, 
and from his grant it appears that his chief 
manorial centres were ' the castle of Polsculi and 
the new castle of Clone '. 4 These places are now 
known as Portnascully, on a small tidal stream 
or ' pill ' debouching into the Suir nearly mid- 
way between Carrick and Waterford, and Clone 
or Clonamery on the Nore below Inistioge. At 

1 Clyn's Annals, 1346. 

2 See History of St. Canice (Graves and Prim), p. 19, 
note a. 

3 Song, 11. 3108-11, and Journ. R. S. A. 1. 1893, pp. 179-84. 

4 Cal. Docs. Ireland, vol. i, no. 2485, from an Inspeximus 
dated June 10, 1240. This document shows that David's 
lands included the greater part of the present barony of 
Ida as well as that of Iverk. 


Portnascully is a well-preserved and strongly 
fortified mote-and-bailey earthwork, and at 
Clone is an early stone castle or tower built on 
a mote. These earthworks probably date from 
the time of Miles Fitz David. 

In the present county of Wexford it seems 
probable that the old royal seat at Ferns was 
left in the possession of Murtough Mc Murrough, 
who had, as we have seen, 1 come to terms with 
Strongbow. At any rate, a large district in the 
north of the county as well as adjoining parts 
of the counties Wicklow and Carlow, appear 
not to have been granted by Strongbow to his 
Gilbert The district of Offelimy by the sea, now 

hard° 1S1 represented by the barony of Ballaghkeen, was 
granted to Gilbert de Boreart (Boisrohard). 2 
Before Henry II came to Ireland Strongbow 
had appointed this Gilbert custos of Waterford, 3 
and he witnessed three of Strongbow's charters. 4 
In the town-land of Ballymotymore in this 
barony there is a conspicuous mote. 

The Dtjffry, a woody district to the west of 
the Slaney, extending from near Enniscorthy to 

1 Supra, p. 238. 

2 Song, 11. 3114-17. In 1177 the land of Gilbert de 
Boisrohard was declared to be appurtenant to the service 
of Wexford. R. de Hoveden, ii. 134. 

3 Song, 11. 2211-14. 

4 Reg. St. Thomas's, p. 370 ; Chart. St. Mary's, vol. ii t 
p. 154 ; Gormanston Reg., f. 190. 


the spurs of Mount Leinster, had been granted, 
as we have seen, 1 to Robert de Quency, the Robert de 
constable ; but he was killed in 1172-3, leaving 
an infant or posthumous daughter, Maud, by 
his wife, who was a daughter of Strongbow. 
Maud de Quency was afterwards married to 
Philip, son of Maurice de Prendergast. 2 Philip 
succeeded in right of his wife to the DufTry, and 
was probably the builder of Enniscorthy Castle 
which is situated on a rock on the west side of 
the Slaney at the head of the tidal way. In 
1227 he obtained from the Bishop of Ferns 
a surrender of that part of Enniscorthy which 
lies to the east of the river, about the ancient 
church of St. Senan. The town that grew up 
about the castle and the Anglo-Norman settle- 
ment in the neighbourhood should probably be 
ascribed to Philip de Prendergast and his son 
Gerald. 3 ' Fernegenal ', a district correspond- 
ing with the barony of Shelmaliere East, was 
granted by the earl to Maurice de Prendergast Maurice 
for the service of ten knights, as an inducement dergast, 
to him to return to Ireland. 4 Afterwards 
Robert Fitz Godebert was enfeoffed of this 
district, or a large portion of its southern 

1 Supra, p. 322. 

2 Song, 11. 2819-26 and 3040-57. 

3 See Hore's Hist, of Co. Wexford, vol. vi. 

4 Song of Dermot, 11. 3072-83. Fernegenal represents 
the Irish Fearann na gCenel : Topogr. Poems, p. 92 and 
note 471. 


extremity, by Maurice. He was probably a 
brother of Richard Fitz Godebert, the ' knight 
of Pembrokeshire ' who accompanied Dermot 
on his return to Ireland in 1167, and son of 
Godebert, a Fleming of the hundred of Rhos 
(Rouse) near Haverford. 1 His sons took the 
name de la Roche from the castle there still 
known as Roch Castle. This descent of the 
Roches of Wexford, and presumably of the lords 
of Fermoy, appears from a charter to the 
monastery of St. Nicholas of Exeter, by which 
David, Henry, and Adam de Rupe granted the 
island of Begerin (in Wexford harbour) to the 
monastery pro salute anime patris nostri Roberti 
filii Godeberti. 2 Early in the thirteenth century, 
Gerald de la Roche, son of David, divided the 
district between himself and his kinsman David 
Fitz Adam Sinad (Sinnott), 3 evidently also of 

1 Supra, p. 141. 

2 Monasticon Diocesis Exoniensis, ed. George Oliver, 
Hist, of St. Nicholas, Exeter, ex archivis civitatis Exoniae, 
no. ix, p. 120. The charter is witnessed (inter alios) by 
Maurice de Prendergast, Philip Puher (Poer), Alexander 
de Brideshale, Robert and Henry de la Roche, Walter 
Hoel, and Roger Christopher, and must be dated before the 
close of the twelfth century, and probably about 1182. 
Adam, monk of St. Nicholas, qui hanc elemosinam impetravit, 
witnessed a charter by Miles de Cogan, Reg. St. Thomas's, 
p. 204; and charters by Margarite de Cogan, ibid., 
pp. 226, 227. 

3 See deed quoted in the Annuary (1868-9) R. S. A. I., 
p. 52, note : and for further remarks concerning the Flemish 


Flemish descent, and hence the two portions 
became known as Roche's land and Sinnott's 

' Obarthy on the sea,' a name surviving in 
the barony of Bargy, was given or confirmed to 
Hervey de Montmorency. 1 His lands included Hervey 
also the present barony of Shelburne, where he m0 rency. 
founded and endowed the Abbey of Dunbrody, 
and where in ' the Island ' (a portion of the 
parish of Kilmokea formerly surrounded by the 
Barrow) he probably had his caput baroniae. 2 

Thus it would appear that at the time of 
Earl Richard's death, while County Kildare and 
a large portion of County Carlow had been fully 
parcelled out into large fiefs, only the adjoining 
fringe of King's and Queen's County had been 
similarly dealt with. The settlement in Ossory 
had not proceeded very far, and in County 
Wexford the southern and eastern parts alone 
had been granted to the barons. 

element among the invaders, Note B at the end of this 

1 Song of Dermot, 11. 3070-1. Obarthi represents the 
Irish Ui Bairrche. 

2 Hervey's fief must have reverted to the lord of Leinster. 
Much of it, however, had been alienated to the Church. 
What remained was afterwards known as the Barony of the 
Island, and along with the manor of Old Ross fell, at the 
partition, to the share of Matilda Mareschal, who married 
Hugh Bigod, Earl of Norfolk. 



Comes Ricardus filius Comitis Ricardi [sic] 
Gisleberti Omnibus Amicis suis et hominibus 
Francis Anglicis Walensibus hiberniensibus tarn 
presentibus quam futuris Salutem. Sciatis me 
dedisse et concessisse Ade de hereford dimidiam 
uillam de achebo. et totum dimidium cantredum 
terre in quo uilla sedet . J cum totis pertinentibus 
suis. Sicut ochelli dermot scilicet illam melius 
tenuit in usseria per liberum seruicium quinque 
militum. Sibi et heredibus suis de me et heredi- 
bus meis libere et quiete et honorifice In terra. 
In Aqua. In bosco. In piano. In Monasteriis. 
In Molendinis. In piscaturis. In stagnis. In 
viuariis. In foro. In domibus et castellis 
firmandis. In uiis. In semitis. et in omnibus 
libertatibus absque omnibus malis consuetudini- 
bus tenendum et habendum in f eodo et hereditate 
per liberum seruicium prenominatum. Scilicet, 
quinque militum. Quare uolo et firmiter pre- 
cipio quatenus predictus Adam et heredes sui 
totum tenumentum suum de me et heredibus 
meis ita libere et quiete et honorifice teneanty 
ut ille de hominibus meis qui melius et liberius 
tenumentum suum de me et heredibus meis 
tenuerit in hibernia. vel tenere debuerit. de 
tanto feodo. his testibus. Ramundo constabu- 
lario. Griffino fratre suo. Roberto de sancto 
michaele. Ricardo de hereford. Johannes de 


hereford. hugone de gurnai. Waltero de ridel 
[eford]. Johanne de clohalle. Rogero de San- 
ford. Willelmo Bret. Waltero filio pagani. 
Hugone de leia. hugone d luieuilla [sic]. 

Transcribed from the photo-zincograph copy of the 
original : Nat. MSS. of Ireland, vol. ii, pi. lxiii. 

The original charter and seal are thus described by the 
Rev. James Graves in the Journal of the Kilkenny Archaeo- 
logical Society, vol. i, p. 502 : ' The charter is written on 
a piece of thick vellum, measuring seven inches by six and 
a quarter, the hand is clear and bold, and the ink in good 
preservation ; the seal appended to the document is about 
three inches in breadth and of rude workmanship. It 
bears on the obverse a mounted knight clad in a long 
surcoat, equipped with a heater-shaped shield, his head 
defended by a conical helmet furnished with a nasal, and 
bearing in his extended right hand a very broad sword, 
straight, and apparently two-edged. Of the inscription the 
word gilleberti alone remains. The reverse is charged 
with the figure of a footman, wearing a surcoat reaching 
down half the leg, his body covered by a long shield, the 
right foot extended, and the spear brought down to the 
charge. A hood of mail and a flat skull-cap with projecting 
rim protect the head ; and the shield is charged with three 
chevronels, the well-known bearing of the de Clares.' 



The Flemish element among the early settlers 
impressed itself so strongly, especially in South 
Wexford, that a word or two on the subject 
will not be out of place. The district of Rhos, 
near Haverford in Pembrokeshire, now the 
hundred of Roose, from which Maurice de Pren- 
dergast and his men seem to have come, was 
colonized by Flemings in the time of Henry I. 1 
It was afterwards, perhaps, further recruited 
by Henry II with some of Stephen's disbanded 
Flemish mercenaries. This Low Dutch settle- 
ment, which Freeman calls ' the last of a series 
of which the coming of Hengist was the first ', 2 
was very complete within its limits. The 
original Welsh inhabitants appear to have been 
driven out or exterminated, their language dis- 
appeared and was replaced by a dialect closely 
akin to the English of the day, and the local 
nomenclature was largely changed, so that the 
district came to be called ' Little England 
beyond Wales '. 3 Other Flemish settlements 
took place about the same time at Tenby and 
in the peninsula of Gower. A very similar 
phenomenon occurred in the baronies of Forth 
and Bargy in County Wexford. The original 

1 William of Malmesbury, Gesta Reg., book v ; Florence 
of Worcester; Brut y Tyw}^. 1105. 

2 See Norman Conquest, vol. v, p. 209, and App. CC. 

3 Camden's Britannia (1695), p. 631. 


Irish inhabitants seem to have almost disap- 
peared, and though the local nomenclature was 
only slightly changed, the people retained up 
to the eighteenth century peculiar customs 
and a peculiar Teutonic dialect which has been 
a standing puzzle to writers. 1 Their difference 
in personal appearance from the inhabitants of 
the Irish baronies in North Wexford has also 
been observed. 2 The explanation is not far 
to seek. These baronies were among the first 
to be occupied by the adventurers from South 
Wales, who were largely these very Flemings, 
and they brought over with them and retained 
their peculiar dialect, which developed somewhat 
on lines of its own, but never lost the charac- 
teristics which link it with Low Dutch dialects. 
The Four Masters were probably not far wrong 
in speaking of the forces which accompanied 
Fitz Stephen as the ' fleet of the Flemings '. 
Maurice de Prendergast, the Geraldines, and 
even Strongbow, probably brought many Flem- 
ings with them, and probably they were after- 
wards followed by their kinsfolk from the same 
quarter. George Owen, in his Description of 
Pembrokeshire, notes that great numbers of 
the Irish went back to Pembroke about the 
time of Tyrone's rebellion, and adds ' as manye 
as come out of the countey of Weisford saye 
they understande noe Irishe, neyther doth anye 
well understande his Englishe '. 3 

1 See Glossary of the Old Dialect of the English Colony 
in Forth and Bargy, collected by Jacob Poole and edited 
by William Barnes (1867) ; also ' An Account of the Barony 
of Forth/ written circa 1680, edited by Herbert Hore, 
Journ. R. S. A. I. 1862-3, pp. 53-84. 

2 See O'Donovan's note, Four Masters, 1169, p. 1172. 

3 See Henrv Owen's edition, Cymmrodorion Soc, 1892, 
p. 40. 


But the Flemish element was not confined 
to South Wexford. Among the leading settlers 
elsewhere were some half-Normanized Flemings. 
The Roches followed their lords the Prendergasts 
to Cork. Mangunel, a Flemish name, was to 
be found in Cork. 1 A Fleming was baron of 
Slane, and a Fleming was given lands at Ardree, 
near Athy. Wilkin was a typical Flemish name, 
and we find a Wilkin of Castlewilkin, near 
Limerick. 2 Other undoubted examples might 
be added, and the fashion of adopting names in 
the Norman form, as in the case of the Roches, 
has probably obscured the Flemish origin of 
some families. When for convenience we speak 
of the invaders as Normans or Anglo-Normans, 
we must be understood to include these semi- 
Normanized Flemings, and also a sprinkling of 
Welshmen and Englishmen as well. Giraldus 
gives a good character to the Flemings of 
Wales : ' Gens fortis et robusta, gens lanificiis 
usifcatissima, nunc ad aratrum nunc ad arma 
promtissima.' 3 These were qualities likely to be 
required in Ireland. 

1 Reg. St. Thomas's, p. 216. William Mangunel, a 
Fleming of Haverford; was expert in the art of divination 
with a ram's shoulder-blade : Gir. Camb. vi. 87, 

2 Four Masters, 1200. 3 vi. 83. 



When dealing with the subject of ' Laudabiliter ' (vol. i, 
cap. ix) I considered it outside the scope of my purpose to 
discuss specifically the arguments of particular writers 
against the authenticity of the documents in question ; but 
I was led to mention Mr. Round's view in a note, and 
perhaps it will be expected that I should notice the view 
taken still more recently by Professor Oliver J. Thatcher 
in his Studies concerning Adrian IV (Decennial Publications 
of the University of Chicago, 1st series, vol. iv, pp. 153-78), 
Professor Thatcher, following in the main the late Professor 
Scheffer-Boichorst, accepts the passage in the Metalogicus 
(translated in part, ante, vol. i, pp. 290-1) as the genuine 
statement of John of Salisbury, and also as a correct 
account of what actually occurred. He also accepts 
Alexander's three Letters as genuine ; but he regards 
' Laudabiliter ' as ' neither a genuine letter of Adrian IV, nor 
a forgery in the true sense of the word \ 'It was not,' he 
says, ' written with the purpose of deceiving or of securing 
any material advantage.' He regards it as ' merely a Latin 
exercise of some twelfth-century student, who was prac- 
tising himself in the art of letter-writing, and for this 
purpose chose to impersonate Adrian IV . His position 
as regards the authenticity of the documents is similar to 
that of Mr. Round, but he interprets the facts in an entirely 
different way. He holds, in short, that Adrian did actually 
make a feudal grant of Ireland to Henry and his heirs in the 
document, now lost, referred to by John of Salisbury, and 
did send a ring by which investiture might be made, but 
that no investiture was in fact made, the probable reason 
being that Henry did not wish to hold Ireland as a fief from 
the Papacy, but wanted to acquire it (with the papal sanction 
as his own absolute dominion. 

This view, representing the Pope as ready to make a grant 
of Ireland and Henry as refusing to accept the gift from the 
Pope's hands, is a curious inversion of the view usually 
taken by Irish writers. It is certainly one way — though 
not, I think, the simplest — of accounting for the dis- 
crepancies between John of Salisbury's account and ' Laud- 
abiliter ' . But the question remains, why was ' Laudabiliter ' 
inserted in the Expugnatio, and how was it that its spurious- 
ness was not at once exposed ? 

This mediaeval student in letter- writing, it may be 
observed, cannot have been Giraldus. For when intro- 


ducing Adrian's Privilege Giraldus refers to the agency 
of John of Salisbury in obtaining both it and the ring of 
investiture, mentioning the latter almost in John's own 
words, and Giraldus, even if we can suppose him capable 
of effectually disguising his own well-marked style, and — 
what is harder to believe — of daring to impersonate the 
Pope, would certainly have composed a document in closer 
conformity to John's account of it. Are we, then, to suppose 
that Giraldus inserted some student's exercise by mistake 
for the genuine article ? 

The principal argument adduced by Professor Thatcher 
against the authenticity of ' Laudabiliter ' — apart from its 
discrepancy with John of Salisbury's account — is one that 
has been used before, viz. the close verbal similarity between 
some of the opening sentences and the commencement of 
another letter addressed by the same Pope to Louis VII. 
The similarity is indeed very close, but did the papal 
chancellery, even in the prefatory matter of its multi- 
tudinous correspondence, never repeat itself 1 

Of course, if ' Laudabiliter ' is to be regarded as a student's 
exercise Alexander's confirmation of it must be assigned to 
a similar lowly origin ; but the only textual criticism 
offered is that, contrary to the rule of the papal chancellery, 
the words ' vos ' and ' vester ' are used in addressing Henry 
instead of c tu ' and ' tuus ' . But surely this is a change which 
any courtier-scribe of the day, wishing to flatter the king with 
the greater dignity of the plural, would feel himself justified 
in making — more especially as it appears that Frederick I 
and Adrian IV had actually quarrelled about the usage. 

We certainly cannot be confident that these documents 
are faithful and accurate transcripts of originals, such as 
we should expect a scholar to make to-day ; but to regard 
' Laudabiliter ' as a mere student's exercise, which was 
solemnly inserted in the Expugnatio, for no apparent pur- 
pose, instead of the true version, and which has for centuries 
deceived not only the enemies of England but the Papacy 
itself, seems to me to be a very hazardous position to take 
up, and one which requires stronger evidence in its support 
than any that has as yet been produced. As, however, 
Professor Thatcher and (apparently) Mr. Round both hold 
that Henry's expedition was in fact sanctioned by Pope 
Adrian as well as approved by Pope Alexander, the question 
of the precise form in which Adrian's sanction was given 
becomes on this view a matter of minor importance. 




Open, Goddard Henry, 1852- 
Ireland under the Normans.